Depression and sleep loss should be treated individually, study shows

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A common belief is that insomnia is a secondary symptom of depression when they co-occur.

But in a new study from Flinders University, researchers suggest that doctors should direct targeted diagnostic and treatment attention to both disorders.

They found up to 90% of patients with mood disorders also report difficulties initiating and/or maintaining sleep, and about 20–50% of patients with insomnia disorder report symptoms of depression.

The co-occurrence of depression and insomnia is linked to reduced quality of life, greater overall morbidity, and increased health care use, compared with either depression or insomnia alone.

The evidence suggests that insomnia and depression should be treated as separate disorders, and the team detailed six areas of evidence:

Insomnia is commonly an independent disorder;

Insomnia symptoms predict future depression;

Treating insomnia can prevent onset of first time depression;

Treating insomnia improves depressive symptoms;

Insomnia symptoms may reduce response and remission to depression treatment; and,

Depressive symptoms may impair response to insomnia treatment.

The team says although it is common for primary care practitioners to conceptualize insomnia as a secondary symptom of depression, this belief is not supported by scientific evidence.

Depression and insomnia represent two comorbid disorders, which are potentially maintained by both bi-directional and functionally independent mechanisms.

It is recommended that when managing patients with co-occurring depression and insomnia symptoms, primary care practitioners direct targeted diagnostic and treatment attention at both disorders.

If you care about depression, please read studies about these common depression drugs linked to early death risk and findings of this depression drug could also prevent heart disease.

For more information about depression and your health, please see recent studies about one dose of this drug may lower anxiety and depression for 5 years and results showing that this metal in the brain strongly linked to depression.

The study is published in the Medical Journal of Australia. One author of the study is Dr. Alexander Sweetman.

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