The link between depression and sleep disorders is well established. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are common depression symptoms, as is excessive sleeping. In addition, sleep specialists now understand that sleep deprivation and insomnia can be causes of depression. Learn more about the complicated relationship between depression and sleep.
Sleep Deprivation, Depression Symptoms and Insomnia
Depression and sleep disorders share many of the same risk factors, which may explain why each disorder can affect the other. People with severe depression symptoms are more likely to suffer from sleep problems and insomnia health effects than people with mild depression.
Insomnia also appears to be one of the more common causes of depression. Research conducted at the University of North Texas (2005) indicates that people suffering from insomnia were more likely to develop depression symptoms and anxiety than people with normal sleep cycles.
Insomnia Health Effects
Insomnia health effects include more than mere sleepiness. In addition to depression, insomnia health effects can also include irritability, anxiety, increased risk of accidents, headaches and stomach problems.
Sleep Deprivation and Depression
A study conducted at Columbia University (2005) highlights the effects of sleep deprivation on depression. The study found that teens with late bedtimes and resultantly shorter sleep durations experienced high rates of depression. Perhaps more alarmingly, sleep deprivation in teens was also associated with higher rates of suicidal thoughts.
A similar link was discovered between sleep disorders and depression in children. Published in the journal “Sleep” (2009), a British study noted sleep problems in children predicted depression in later life. Childhood depression, however, was not predictive of future sleep problems.
Sleep Apnea and Depression Symptoms
Several sleep disorders cause sleep deprivation and depression symptoms. Studies conducted at Stanford University (2005) indicate that 20 percent of people with depression have sleep apnea.
Use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat sleep apnea often improves depression symptoms. Care must be taken not to worsen sleep apnea when treating depression with medication. Some antidepressants have a sedating effect that makes sleep apnea worse by relaxing the throat muscles.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a popular first-line treatment for antidepressants, can also worsen insomnia. Health effects of medication must be carefully considered when sleep disorders are causes of depression.
Sleep Deprivation: Depression Cure or Cause?
Some people suffering from depression have reported that a full night of sleep deprivation improves depression symptoms. While some doctors use sleep deprivation to treat serious depression, the benefits are usually temporary and must be balanced against the symptoms of sleep deprivation, which include impaired thought processes, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep deprivation as a depression treatment is controversial and should only be attempted under a doctor’s care.