Last week, the New York Times ran a front page article called, Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid to Depression. This fascinating article states a truth that I have known for many decades–that insomnia is not only a symptom of depression, but can be a cause as well.
The study is the first of four on sleep and depression nearing completion, all financed by the National Institute of Mental Health. It found that 87 percent of patients who resolved their insomnia in four biweekly talk therapy sessions also saw their depression symptoms dissolve after eight weeks of treatment, either with an antidepressant drug or a placebo pill — almost twice the rate of those who could not shake their insomnia.
Although scientists have known that insomnia is associated with mood disorders, this is the first instance in which both conditions were treated at the same time.
Depression is the most common mental disorder, affecting some 18 million Americans in any given year. This study is very important for those of us who suffer from depression. In all four of my major depressive breakdowns, I suffered from crippling insomnia before the onset of the depressions. I now see that if my insomnia had been treated, I might have avoided having to go through a major depression. Thus, I encourage anyone who is having serious sleep problems to do all that you can to treat the insomnia. This is especially critical if you have suffered from depression before or if you have a family history of depression or anxiety.