Most of us, at some level, recognize that our sleep and our mood are often linked. That linkage can be as simple as a grouchy morning after a restless night.
“For many years, we have known that insomnia, when left unaddressed, confers a heightened risk for the development of various new emotional conditions, notably depression,” says Jefferson psychiatrist Karl Doghramji, MD, director of the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center. “What we have not yet answered well, however, are the questions of whether we can prevent depression from emerging if we treat insomnia effectively, and whether we can diminish the severity of depression, once it has emerged, if we treat the insomnia that accompanies it.”
Research highlighted in The New York Times suggests an answer to the question of whether treating insomnia can help people who also suffer from depression.
A team of Canadian researchers from Ryerson University report that combining treatment of insomnia with therapy for depression resulted in better outcomes than traditional approaches that focus on the patient’s depression.
“I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia,” Colleen E. Carney, PhD, the lead researcher at Ryerson, told The Times.
Dr. Carney’s team found that 87 percent of patients whose insomnia was successfully treated also experienced improvement in their depression, the newspaper reported.
“The reports from Dr. Colleen Carney and her colleagues of a reduction in depression severity following nonpharmacological treatment of insomnia, in individuals who suffer from both depression and insomnia, provide an important piece of the puzzle,” says Dr. Doghramji. “The results of the study highlight the complex bidirectional relationship that seems to exist between insomnia and depression.”
Dr. Doghramji and the team of sleep specialists at the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center provide advanced treatment for the full range of sleep problems, including insomnia. Established in 1978, the Center was the first such program in the Philadelphia area and is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.