Depression and Insomnia – The Interrelationship

Since insomnia is just a symptom of an underlying disease or an imbalance, evaluating the cause of insomnia is very important before prescribing any medication.

Depression is the most common cause of chronic insomnia, especially in the elderly.

A study shows that depressed elderly patients, if they suffer from insomnia, have a tendency to be depressed for over a year.

Another study shows that even without a history of depression, if an elderly patient suffers from insomnia, they have a high risk of being depressed. This is usually observed in women.

It has been proven that insomnia can affect ones’ lifestyle negatively. Once this happens, the person starts to worry. Worrying, then causes depression.

Depression is an emotional condition characterized by sadness or misery. Although many have experienced this at one time, clinical depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, anger or frustration affect daily life for an extended period of time.

Another interesting relationship between depression and disrupted sleep is that some medications used for depression can cause insomnia. This is because these medications are used to make the patient more energetic, that at times, these make the patient anxious.

The new anti-depressants that have stimulant effects include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and other serotonin-reuptake inhibitors. Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors are substances that prevent the reabsortion of substances in the kidney. During the biological elimination process of substances taking place in the kidney, some substances are reabsorbed in the kidneys, thus, prolonging the effect of such substances.

With the presence of serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, serotonin is not reabsorbed and is continued to be eliminated from the body.

Serotonin is an important monoamine neurotransmitter that plays a large role in depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders. Some serotonin is converted by the pineal gland, the pea-sized gland at the center of the brain, into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleeping and waking cycles.

In addition to the prescribed medications to treat insomnia, a patient may also practice the following procedures to combat insomnia.

* Control exposure to caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

These three substances are known to disrupt one’s normal sleeping patterns.

* Maintain regular sleeping time and waking time.

This would help in maintaining the circadian rhythm thus minimizing the effects of fatigue caused by insomnia.

* Regular exercise is good for the body but this shouldn’t be done late in the afternoon or early in the evening.

This is because exercise tends to start-up the body. If the body has gained more energy by the end of the day, this can prevent one from being able to sleep at night.

* Go to be only when about to sleep. Reading or watching TV in bed is discouraged or to be avoided.

When the mind is conditioned that the bed is for sleeping, once one goes to bed, he or she can readily get some sleep.

* Eat meals regularly.

Meal intake affects biological activities due to increased blood blow to the stomach.

These pointers may be helpful in managing conditions associated with insomnia. Still, some situations require sleep-promoting medications prescribed by a medical specialist.