Depression and Insomnia

How Insomnia Treatment Can Ease Depression

The latest findings have helped improve treatment strategies. Evidence shows that treating sleep problems can ease depressive symptoms and may even prevent relapses. In one study, 56 people who suffered both depression and insomnia received psychotherapy for their sleep problems alone. The symptoms of depression eased in more than half of the people, even though their treatment had not targeted depression.

Another study, with 545 patients, found that depressed patients with insomnia who were treated with both an antidepressant and a sleep medication fared better than those treated only with antidepressants. The people treated for both insomnia and depression slept better and their depression scores improved significantly more than patients on antidepressants alone.

“Both of these studies offer strong evidence for why it’s so important to treat insomnia, whether it’s associated with depression, chronic pain, cancer, or other co-existing disorders,” Perlis tells WebMD.

Medication or Therapy to Treat Insomnia

Insomnia can be treated in two very different ways: with medication or with cognitive behavioral therapies. In studies, medications have been shown to shorten the time it takes for people with insomnia to fall asleep. They can also help people stay asleep.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, has also been shown to be effective. This therapy is aimed at encouraging healthier behaviors and more positive and realistic thought processes around sleep. It encourages better sleep habits such as going to bed at the same time at night and eliminating distractions from the bedroom. CBT-I also helps people replace negative thoughts (“I’ll never fall asleep”) with positive alternatives (“It’s normal to take a little while to fall asleep“).

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