Mental Health and Sleep

Depression and Insomnia

Insomnia can be a common symptom of depression. Patients with depression suffer from hypersomnia – too much sleep, these patients emphasize insomnia over hypersomnia.

Insomnia can occur before depression, or lead up to depression. Insomnia is a co-occurring sleep disorder that aggravates depression. For this reason it is important to treat insomnia instead of waiting to see if it gets better when treating depression first.

Patients with insomnia and depression suffer from SDB. This disorder can go unnoticed, undetected or undiagnosed and therefore not be treated. When SDB persists in patients with bot depression and insomnia the patient will have difficulty resolving either of the disorders. Insomnia that does not respond to antidepressants would benefit from doing a overnight sleep test to check for SDB.

Trauma and Insomnia

Nightmare patients mostly suffer from insomnia, they have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, early morning awakenings and nonrestorative slumbers.

PTSD comprises of physical or physiological components and psychological components. Trauma survivors respond to cognitive behavioural treatments, and also respond to imagery techniques for their nightmares. When the treatments are completed these patients show residual sleep symptoms, daytime fatigue or sleepiness. They also do not feel refreshed on awaking in the mornings.

These patients also suffer from SDB and sleep movement problems such as restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder. These patients see an improvement in their sleep patterns.

Mental health patients with anxiety, depression or PTSD get improvements on all their sleep disorders in addition to their treatments for their mental health disorders.

Anxiety and Insomnia

Why do anxious insomnia patients develop sleep breathing problems?

Some patients with mental disorders suffer from sleeplessness that plagues them for a long time. Insomnia also increases the risk for sleep breathing difficulties, as with insomnia you have more time in lighter stages of sleep. In the lighter stage your breathing is more susceptible to disruption from your normal breathing rate. Mental health patients can start with insomnia and no SDB, but may develop over a period of time.

Emotional distress, particularly anxiety has an impact your airway, causing a type of tension or restriction.

Changes caused by insomnia, emotional stress can cause SDB, in a less apparent form known as UARS. Trauma survivors who do not have insomnia before a traumatic event, and then post-trauma develop anxiety, insomnia and nightmares, find that their sleep progressively gets worse, and when tested have SDB. It is important to recommend sleep testing for insomnia as early as possible.

Nightmares and Insomnia

Nightmares are a common cause for insomnia, as they provoke these patients to put off their bedtimes until much later to avoid dreaming. When they are awakened by troubling images, it is hard to fall asleep again.

Nightmare patients report that their sleep improves after treating their condition. Their insomnia is reduced or eliminated when there is a way to reduce or eliminate the disturbing dreams. It is very motivating for these patients when their sleep patterns improve when doing a non-drug treatment for their bad dreams. Imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) reduces these bad dreams without using additional drugs or therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

The healthcare paradigm places patients routinely on a merry go round that goes nowhere. Mental health patients with sleep problems hear or treat themselves by saying this to themselves: “take care of your mental health, and sleep will take care of itself”.

Sleep specialists treat many patients who have be improperly diagnosed with mental health problems instead of sleep disorders, such as depression. This is often missed as it coincides with the mental disorder.

Sleep specialists and mental health professionals work towards each other to make it easier for these patients to cross over to either one, and receive the maximum benefit of treatment from both sleep and mental health treatments.

When suffering from depression, panic attacks, and PTSD for a long period of time there is sleep difficulties involved, patients are offered to see a psychiatric about their sleep disturbances.

This is the same for people who suffer from insomnia, and not a mental health disorder. These patients are told to relax and participate in stress reduction classes to help them sleep. This will only be helpful to patients with a mild sleep disorder. This only takes the importance away from the sleep problem and elevates the mental health problem, which is stress as more important.

“If I can sleep better, my anxiety or depression would be easier to handle” Most health care professionals would respond to this by saying they should treat your anxiety or depression and see if that improves your sleep.

His makes the doctor assign your depression as the problem, and then do not treat your sleep problem, but maybe just as a symptom. When sleeping pills are prescribed,, insomnia and poor sleep are seen as the symptom, and these pills do not cure any chronic sleep problems.

When treating the sleep problem as the major problem and not after the mental health problem, your sleep will improve, as well as your anxiety, depression, PTSD a lot faster. Some of these patients’ mental health’s problems decrease once they achieve sound sleep night after night. 

Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff