Depression and Insomnia
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Depression and Insomnia -- Strange Bedfellows!

What comes first in depression and insomnia? If you're depressed ... insomnia can result. If you are suffering with insomnia ... depression can result. New research shows there is hope for recovery.

We live in a stressed-out society where insomnia and depression are experienced by many people on a regular basis. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Since they both feed off of each other, it's not easy to discern which condition happened first.

Depression is debilitating with its classic symptoms of profound sadness. Many activities of daily living are disrupted such as ability to focus clearly on the job or at home, change in eating patterns and trouble sleeping.

Listen to this discussion (June 13, 2012) with Matt Galloway host on CBC's Metro Morning (Toronto, Canada) with Dr. Peter Lin on more evidence to suggest that both depression and obesity are major causes of daytime sleepiness.

To contribute to the conundrum, other sleep disorders may initiate depression. You're not alone if people call you "sleepyhead". It is estimated that over 40 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders.


Historically doctors have believed sleep disorders were a symptom of depression. But, according to recent research, both are real disorders and should be treated concurrently.

Has this ever happened to you? When you can't fall asleep, your clock appears to tick in double time; anxiety levels heighten knowing morning is fast approaching. You're desperate to get some sleep in order to work the next day. Then, about 45 minutes before time to get up, you fall into a deep sleep.

Anxiety about not sleeping is one example of how sleep deprivation leads to depression. The new study says if your quality of sleep spirals into a rapid decline it could be a signal of depression. It also revealed insomnia's dual involvement: it brings on depression and it also prolongs it.

Several new findings present a good case of renewed hope for people suffering with depression and insomnia. When both insomnia and depression were treated together, individuals experienced restful sleep and were considerably less depressed.

Researchers confirm even six hours of sleep are enough to interfere with memory transfer.

Our body needs sleep to perform restorative maintenance and to transfer important events into long-term memory. For example, people with chronic pain sleep poorly. They suffer from memory impairment because the brain cannot effectively make the transfer into long term storage.

While the following audio article does not focus on the insomnia and depression connection, this next CBC Radio interview by host Michael Enright, The Sunday Edition, with Robert Whitaker, investigative journalist, discusses the revealing facts that psychotic drugs (ex.  SSRIs) aren't very effective in treating mental illnesses, including depression.

And, because sleep deprivation and depression are linked, this reinforces the fact that improving your sleep (without drugs) should be a priority. I encourage you to start implementing some health sleep hygiene tips, even if it's just one little step ... then notice how your quality of life improves.

Researchers also noted that in some people sleep dysfunction has an antidepressant result. While sleep deprivation is sometimes useful in treating depression, it doesn't usually last.

There is a new form of sleep deprivation called "phase advancing", which is being tried in effort to allow the body to produce serotonin and diminish stress response hormones.

People suffering depression and insomnia experience a complicating energy loss. They never feel totally relaxed due to daily fatigue and nightly sleep disruption. Before resorting to insomnia medications, it may be beneficial to try energizing tonics early in the day to nourish the adrenal glands. Use natural sleep aids in the evening so that the natural hormonal rhythm can be reestablished.

A few things to try at home if your sleep is fragile are: sleep on a good quality mattress and pillows; use the bedroom for sleep, not eating, watching TV, studying or using computers; eliminate all lights and noise that may interrupt sleep; improve your diet and moderate use of caffeine, alcohol and drugs.

Anyone with serious symptoms should definitely be medically evaluated. But with on-going research showing dramatic improvements for depression and insomnia, be sure to check out alternative treatments that are right for you.

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