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Insomnia and Depression

You may have heard about depression causing insomnia, but are you aware that there is a reverse link between insomnia and depression, in that it is one of the causes you may have been feeling low and down lately? Here's a detailed look into this perplexing relationship between these two mentally disturbing conditions.
A lot has been said about insomnia and depression, and that the two have a link that has for a long while, been beyond understanding. Until recently, a common belief was that depression is one of the causes of the sleep disorder called insomnia, causing painfully sleeplessness nights, and prolonged days full of fatigue. However, a recent study has proven otherwise, basically stating that this sleep disorder can in fact cause you to feel depressed, and experience various symptoms of depression. Studies have also proven that curing insomnia is essential, in order to treat the subsequent depression it causes. Here we try to understand this complicated relationship between these two conditions.

How Insomnia Causes Depression

Several research studies and experiments have been conducted to understand the link between insomnia and depression. The following outcomes have been noted upon conducting these research studies.
  • These studies have revealed that the elderly who were depressed and suffered from insomnia were 17 times more susceptible to remaining depressed even after a whole year, if the insomnia was left untreated. On the other hand, patients who slept well were affected by the treatment administered for curing depression.
  • It has been noted that the elderly who had no medical or family history of depression, were 6 times more prone to developing depression if suffering from insomnia. This pattern was more prominent in those who had a particular type of insomnia, where they were repetitively awakened on a regular basis through the night, a condition known as middle insomnia. Also, women were noticed to be more likely to develop this kind of depression.
  • Though this research has been conducted on seniors, experts suggest that anyone who suffers from chronic insomnia is susceptible to developing depression.
  • While the common consensus lies in the fact that treating depression will cure insomnia, these studies reveal otherwise, saying that insomnia has to be treated in order to cure depression.
One of the causes of this sleep disorder and subsequent depression is that staying awake for too long enhances the release of dopamine, a chemical that along with serotonin, is linked to the 'feel-good' factor that we may experience sometimes. Studies conducted on animals have proven that an excess production of dopamine too can transcend this feeling of general positivity and cause depression. There has been longstanding evidence that when one is awake for longer than usual, the body triggers additional production of serotonin, and in some cases, insomnia acts as a natural antidepressant. However, when this production goes haywire and results in an excess, there is a chance of developing depression.

When a person is suffering from sleep disorders, it is natural to experience certain symptoms the next day, which include fatigue, loss of concentration, confusion and lack of memory, all of which may contribute to the development of pessimism and therefore, depression. As such, slowly insomnia triggers depression. If you are already susceptible to depression due to previous history, or due to its existence in your family, and if you happen to develop insomnia, you are more likely to suffer from depression. If you suffer from a span of lack of sleep for over five days, you should head for treatment for this condition immediately. Forcing yourself to sleep and lying awake in bed is not going to help and may worsen your condition. Some home remedies may be attempted, such as a relaxing massage before sleeping with the use of aromatherapy, etc. Avoid stressful situations before sleeping, and try to begin to unwind before you sleep. For instance, avoid watching television, or sitting before the computer before sleeping. Instead, listen to some soothing music or chants to enhance your sleep.

Over time, chronic insomnia, and the depression caused by it can slowly destroy your lifestyle and health. Keeping this in mind, ensure that when you experience disturbed sleep patterns, you should resort to a treatment for it at the earliest. Apart from depression, insomnia can trigger several other health conditions, that include blood pressure and diabetes. To steer clear of all these, take care of your health, indulge in healthy sleeping patterns, and lead a good, healthy and positive lifestyle.
By Puja Lalwani
Published: 8/7/2010
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