WESTCHESTER, Ill. – Mental Health Awareness Month, observed throughout May in the United States, increases awareness about mental illness such as depression. Mental illness is a significant health concern and, if left untreated, can have serious consequences. Depression is the most common mental illness, and recent studies have demonstrated the link between depression and poor sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) warns those suffering from a sleep disorder to see a sleep specialist for treatment without delay, and to not allow it to escalate into a more serious, and potentially life-threatening, health concern.
“For many years, it was assumed that insomnia was produced by depression or, in diagnostic parlance, secondary to the depressive disorder,” says Dr. Spielman. “This view was first challenged by a research study in the late 1980s that showed that individuals with insomnia and free of depression that were untreated were more frequently depressed one year later. Following this paradigm-shifting study, there have been seven other studies that have reached similar conclusions. It is now well established that insomnia is a risk factor for depression.”
“Once depression has occurred, insomnia typically precedes recurrent bouts of depression,” says Dr. Arand. “In addition, insomnia is a predictor of acute suicide among people with mood disorders. However, both depression and insomnia are treatable, and individuals experiencing either symptom should seek treatment.”
“We used to think that insomnia was most often just a symptom of depression. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that insomnia is not just a symptom of depression, but that it may actually precede depression. In other words, people who have insomnia but no depression are at increased risk for later developing depression,” says Daniel J. Buysse, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, lead author of the paper.
“Even when depression was identified and treated in the primary care setting, the older adults in this study were more likely to remain depressed if they also exhibited persistent insomnia. The finding that this risk was higher in the usual-care group suggests that enhanced depression care may partially mitigate the perpetuating effects of insomnia on depression,” says Wilfred R. Pigeon, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, study author.
Furthermore, the study found that across sleep-disturbed children, those with both insomnia and hypersomnia had a longer history of illness, were more severely depressed and were more likely to have anhedonia, weight loss, psychomotor retardation and fatigue than those with either insomnia or hypersomnia.
It is recommended that infants (three to 11 months) get 14 to 15 hours of nightly sleep, while toddlers get 12 to 14 hours, children in pre-school 11-13 hours and school-aged children between 10-11 hours. Adolescents are advised to get nine hours of nightly sleep and adults seven to eight hours.
“Insomnia treatment is quite successful these days because of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy and new hypnotic medications,” says Dr. Spielman. “When insomnia is addressed quality of life improves, fatigue is reduced and the risk of future depression is reduced. All very good reasons to seek out treatment for this common sleep disturbance.”
The AASM offers the following tips for adults and adolescents on how to get a good night’s sleep:
The AASM offers some tips to help your child sleep better:
Parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their child’s pediatrician or a sleep specialist. Adults and adolescents are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.
More information is available from the AASM about:
• Men and sleep (https://www.SleepEducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=19)
• Women and sleep (https://www.SleepEducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=67)
• Teens and sleep, including a new questionnaire that assesses the level of sleepiness in adolescents (https://www.SleepEducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=71)
• Children and sleep (https://www.SleepEducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=8)
SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.
SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies and the world’s largest annual gathering of sleep scientists and sleep medicine professionals, will take place in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 9-12, 2008. SLEEP 2008 will bring together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians, who will present and discuss over 1,100 new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders. The deadline to register is Friday, May 30, 2008. Contact Jim Arcuri at (708 ) 492-0930, ext. 9317, or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register for a free press pass. More details, including the program schedule and a list of invited lecturers, are available at www.SleepMeeting.org.
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