Depression & Sleep Disorder
Often a mental health disorder will be found after a complaint of insomnia. Depression and anxiety are often related to a lack of sleep. Depression and other mood disorders often will result in a degree of insomnia.
This insomnia is caused by a mental health disorder. The insomnia is a symptom of the disorder. The course and severity of insomnia are directly linked to that of the mental health disorder. But the insomnia is a separate focus of treatment. This insomnia is a disorder only if it is severe enough to require separate treatment.
A person with depression may wake up for long periods during the night or be unable to return to sleep in the morning. Anxiety disorder also has insomnia as a symptom. For a person with anxiety, insomnia often involves a difficulty falling asleep.
Who gets it?
Surveys suggest that about 3% of people have this type of insomnia. It is the most common disorder in people who seek help from a sleep centre for ongoing insomnia. This disorder is most common in middle-aged people. It also appears more often in women. Both younger and older people are less likely to develop this disorder. It also tends to run in families. This is because mental health disorders tend to run in families.
How do I know if I have it?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or do you wake up too early or feel unrefreshed after sleeping?
- Does this problem occur even though you have the chance and the time to get a good night’s sleep?
- Do you have at least one of the following problems? You have:
- Low energy
- Lack of motivation
- Attention, concentration or memory problems
- Poor performance at school or work
- Extreme mood changes
- Daytime sleepiness
- Trouble making errors at work or while driving
- Tension, headaches or stomach aches
- Frustration or worry about your sleep
If your answer to each of these questions is yes, then you might have insomnia. Now continue to see if you might have insomnia due to a mental disorder:
- Have you had the insomnia for at least one month?
- Do you have a mental health disorder?
- Does your insomnia tend to come and go along with the symptoms of your mental health disorder? In some cases, does the insomnia occur a few days or weeks before the onset of the mental health disorder?
- Does your insomnia cause you distress?
If you also answered yes to these questions, then you may have insomnia due to mental disorder.
It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:
- Another sleep disorder
- A medical condition
- Medication use
- Substance abuse
Do I need to see a sleep specialist?
The first step is to talk with your primary care doctor. You should visit him or her if the insomnia has lasted for more than one month. See if it improves with treatment. See if it gets better as your mental health disorder improves. If it does not get better, then you may want to see a sleep specialist.
What will the doctor need to know?
A sleep doctor will want to know when your insomnia began. He or she will also want to know about any mental health problems that you have. Your medical history is also important. Let the doctor know if you are taking any medications. This includes over the counter and herbal medications. Keep a sleep diary to track your typical sleep and wake patterns. This will help to reveal any unusual sleep patterns. It may also suggest how to correct the problem.
Will I need to take any tests?
You should not need an overnight sleep study. Your doctor may have you do a sleep study if he or she thinks you have another type of sleep disorder. You may be given a brief, written test. It will analyse your emotional and mental health. One common test is called the Beck Depression Inventory.
How is it treated?
The insomnia must be treated along with the mental health disorder. The first step is to talk to your primary care doctor. Treating insomnia often invlves changing your habits. You should practice the habits of good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene consists of basic habits and tips that help you develop a pattern of healthy sleep.
If changing your habits does not work, then your primary care doctor may have you try a medication. Sleep medications are also called hypnotics. They are often used for short periods of time when the mental health problem and the insomnia are at their worst. The medications may not work well for you. You may need to take more of them. They also may have negative side effects.
Behavioural therapy might be your best approach to treat the insomnia. This might involve limiting the amount of time you spend in bed each night. You also learn to go to bed only when sleepy. It’s important to get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, you should do something that is relaxing for you. Relaxation strategies might also be useful to help manage stress, frustration, and anxiety.
Cognitive approaches help you change how you think about sleep. For many people with a history of poor sleep quality, sleep itself can provoke anxiety.
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