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If You are Depressed, Get Better by Treating Bad Sleep, without Addressing Depression at all…

 By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH

A man runs to the doctor and says, “Doctor, I need help. My wife thinks she’s a chicken!”

Doctor: “How long has this been going on?”

“2 Years, ” says the man.

“Why has it taken you so long to come and see me?” asks the doctor.

The man shrugs and says, “We needed the eggs.”

chickenegg

Bad sleep is bad for everything. Depression is also bad for everything. Interestingly enough, studies suggest that if you treat sleep problems (without even touching the depression symptoms), one’s depression can go away. I’m the chief of clinical research for a UK-based company, Ccbt Limited, that offers computerized programs for insomnia, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. I’m constantly evaluating new studies as they emerge, and it’s really all quite fascinating to me, especially as someone who suffered big-time from depression. My doctors, at the time, never suggested sleep therapy, most likely because they weren’t aware of the connection.  Please continue reading below a segment I wrote for Ccbt Limited on why it’s so imperative depressed folks should treat insomnia and sleep issues, and now, thanks to technology, you can get quality help right in your own home:

The relationship between depression and bad sleep has always had a chicken vs. egg feel to it. In other words, which comes first? While most patients with both insomnia and depressive symptoms are often treated only for depression, recent studies suggest that they should be treated with CBT for insomnia as well.  Insomnia has been directly linked to increased irritability, volatility, increased emotional disturbances and an inability to regulate one’s emotions.

It is also possible that by treating a person’s insomnia, his or her depressive symptoms will also improve, whether the treatment is provided in-person or through a computerized program. An interesting randomized controlled trial published in Sleep compared the effectiveness of a computerized program for insomnia and one for depression in adults with both insomnia and depression. Results showed that the program for insomnia produced significantly better results for insomnia severity than the program for depression, and both programs produced similar improvements for depression severity.  While the focus here is depression, insomnia has been linked to many chronic diseases. As online mental health care evolves and becomes more sophisticated, the possibility of effectively treating one’s insomnia issues at home may significantly improve their overall health and lessen their risk of long-term illnesses.

In conclusion, treating bad sleep prior to or in conjunction with mental symptoms is, in my opinion, a wise strategy. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

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