Sleep Disorders: Sleep Problems Linked to Depression
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by sadness or feeling blue along with a series of physical symptoms such as low energy, disrupted sleep, and appetite changes. Nearly everyone feels normal sadness or feels down from time to time. Sometimes, however, the sad feelings become intense, last for long periods of time, and involve other physical symptoms that prevent a person from leading a normal life. These feelings often lead to a medical diagnosis of clinical depression.
How Are Sleep and Depression Linked?
An inability to sleep, insomnia, or excessive oversleeping called "hypersomnia" can be one of the signs of depression. Lack of sleep alone is not the same thing as depression, but it can be one of its important symptoms. Lack of sleep caused by another medical illness or by personal problems can also lead to daytime fatigue and make the diagnosed depression worse. An inability to sleep that lasts over a long period of time is also an important clue that someone may be depressed.
What Treatments Are Available for Depression-Related Insomnia?
Usually, once the depression has been successfully treated, symptoms of insomnia will improve.
Treatment choices for depression depend on how serious the illness is. The most effective treatment for depression for most people is often a combination of psychotherapy (counseling or talk therapy) and medication. Medication tends to work more quickly to decrease symptoms while psychotherapy helps people learn coping strategies to prevent the onset of future depressive symptoms. Psychotherapy can also address coping skills to improve a person's ability to fall asleep.