Insomnia and Depression Are More Closely Related Than You Think

Insomnia has always been a symptom of depression, but research shows that the two are more closely related than people thought. Recent studies have shown that insomnia can be a harbinger of depression, often starting weeks before the onset of other depression symptoms. Sleep deprivation can also increase the length of severity and depression. If you’ve been diagnosed with insomnia depression, you may actually be able to offset the effects of depression by focusing your treatment on insomnia.

Insomnia and Depression: Working Hand in Hand to Limit Your Life

Insomnia depression is a form of sleep deprivation that accompanies lowered concentration, negative thinking, weight gain or weight loss, feelings of hopelessness and irritability. If you’re dealing with symptoms of insomnia and depression you know how frustrating it can be to get through the day.

You begin each night determined to get the sleep that you know your body and mind need, but the hours roll by with no rest in sight. You wake in the morning feeling groggy and defeated. In other cases, you may fall asleep fine but have trouble staying asleep. Early morning awakening is another form of insomnia that can cause just as much trouble as the inability to fall asleep at night.

When you miss out on sleep, your mind doesn’t have the time to store and process the information you receive each day. It leaves you with fuzzy thinking during the day that can further impair your ability to concentrate and learn. In addition, sleep deprivation can shorten your fuse and make it hard for you to deal with the stressors that are a normal part of life.

Insomnia and Depression Diagnostic Criteria

If you feel that your sleeplessness is affecting your work life, speak with your doctor about your other symptoms. In addition to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, those with depression:

  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Crying for no reason
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Unexplained back pain or headaches

Since sleeplessness also causes a lot of these symptoms, doctors are sometimes left with a “chicken and egg” situation when it comes to depression and insomnia. It’s estimated that 80% of people with depression experience insomnia symptoms.


Insomnia and Depression Linked: Studies show a deep connection


Which came first: the insomnia or the depression? Within the last ten years several studies have been conducted in order to determine the complex relationship between insomnia and depression.  According to work done by sleep researcher Michael Perlis in 2003, insomnia shows up sometimes as much as five weeks before depressive episodes and can increase the length of depression symptoms. The studies also showed that REM sleep, the time of night when you dream, is also intensified when you are depressed (as if the brain is rushing to get to this emotionally charged part of dreaming).

Since insomnia can intensify the symptoms of depression, it can be worthwhile to focus on treating the insomnia first. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia may reduce depression symptoms more quickly and help you get your life back in order. For more information on treating insomnia to cure depression, speak with your doctor or a licensed counselor.

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