Insomnia may actually cause depression (and NOT just vice versa)

According to the New York Times, “Psychiatrists have long thought that depression causes insomnia, but new research suggests that insomnia can actually precede and contribute to causing depression.”The Times points out that “the causal link works in both directions. Two small studies have shown that a small amount of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat insomnia, when added to a standard antidepressant pill to treat depression, can make a huge difference in curing both insomnia and depression in many patients.”

If the results hold up in other studies already underway at major medical centers, this could be the most dramatic advance in treating depression in decades. If the studies’ results are confirmed, the National Institute of Mental Health “and leading psychiatric organizations ought to consider ways to bring this cheap and highly effective sleep therapy into widespread clinical use.”

In continuing coverage, the New York Times also reported that it’s cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) which may “double the effectiveness of depression treatment” and that this therapy “is not widely available nor particularly well understood by psychiatrists or the public.”

The therapy involves “stimulus control, restriction and common sense,” as well as therapy that challenges assumptions people may have that prevent them from sleeping. Currently, only 400 practitioners of CBT-I have been certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.