Though many people associate depression with people staying in bed all day long, this may be a false representation of a depressed person – and even if it is correct staying in bed is a far cry from sleeping. Depression and other psychological or emotional problems are often the illness for which insomnia is the symptom. The difficulty in connecting the dots between insomnia and depression often lies in the fact that when people are suffering from psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression or phobias that may contribute to insomnia, others around them are not aware of these psychological problems. Though most people think of depression as simply being sad, that is not the case. Those who suffer from depression experience a sense of hopelessness, disinterest, anxiety or sadness that impacts every aspect of their lives.
The problem of insomnia as it relates to depression is that in most cases, even if a patient is being treated for depression the physician or psychiatrist treating them do not have enough knowledge about sleep disorders or sleep deprivation to provide medications or therapies that will also alleviate the patients’ sleep problems. Making this situation even worse is the fact that once a depressed patient becomes sleep-deprived their depression will likely worsen, and as depression worsens their sleep problems will likewise worsen.
People who are more prone to depression are also more prone to sleep disorders, with those who are most likely to develop depression experiencing both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep. In addition to insomnia, patients suffering from depression are also far more likely to fall pretty to other sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Women and older adults are more prone to sleep disorders combined with depression. In older adults this is generally attributed to the contributions of declining health, while in women the problems are attributed to hormonal shifts of menopause and menstruation and the stress involved in parenting. Patients who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of depression, are also far more likely to suffer from insomnia then the rest of the general population.
Depression is characterized by a number of different symptoms, including the following:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss
- Loss of libido
- Lack of interest in things that had previously been of interest
- Problems concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
- Daytime sleepiness
Of all of the symptoms experienced, those related to sleep deprivation are the only ones that also contribute to all of the other symptoms. Lack of sleep the biggest impact and make the depression that much worse.
Depression is generally treated through a combination of cognitive therapy and prescription medication, but it is very important that any psychiatrist or physician who is prescribing drugs for the treatment of depression is aware of the patient’s sleep problems and the impact that a specific drug may have on the ability to sleep. Though some offer relief, other popular antidepressants can make insomnia worse.