By Gina Roberts-Grey
Sleep experts have long believed that mood and sleep are directly related. And now new research says treating insomnia may result in an improvement of mood and relief of symptoms of depression.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 20 million Americans suffer from depression. And research found those with insomnia have a tenfold risk of developing depression, compared to those who sleep well.
But a team of researchers at Ryerson University in Toronto recently found that 87 percent of patients who treated their insomnia through four biweekly talk therapy sessions also saw their depression symptoms improve. The boost in mood came at almost twice the rate of those who could not shake their insomnia, and the results were in line with a previous pilot study of insomnia treatment at Stanford.
“Sleep and mood are directly related to each other; without sleep your mood can become irritable, unpredictable and in extreme instances elevated or ‘manic’,” said Dr. Aeva Gaymon Doomes, a psychiatrist in Silver Springs, Md. “Some people with depression experience insomnia either because they are anxious or preoccupied or because their brain chemistry will not allow them to calm down enough to sleep.”
Sleep may be difficult for depressed people because they are preoccupied with their sadness and anxiety and can’t relax enough to fall asleep.
The reverse is also true; People who are unable to experience restful sleep may become sad, anxious or lose pleasure in life—all symptoms of depression.
“The way this story is unfolding, I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia,” said the Ryerson University study’s lead author, Colleen E. Carney, in an interview.
If you’re experience symptoms of depression, insomnia or both, consult your physician about the possible connection between the two and treatment options.