Depressed? Suffer from Insomnia? There’s a Link Between the Two

I never knew that my depression was directly related to my insomnia.  Now that I think back on that time of insomnia and depression it makes sense.  I was so stressed out over the day to day things that I couldn’t clear my head to even attempt to fall asleep.  I was lucky if I slept four hours a night!  If you are suffering from insomnia and notice that you feel depressed also, read on.  I’ll help you try to understand the link between the two.

First off it’s hard to admit that you suffer from depression because it’s looked at so negatively in our society.  Many assumptions are that a depressed person doesn’t leave their bedroom all day and all they do is sleep.  Quite the contrary!  A depressed person may never leave their bedroom but it most certainly does not mean they are sleeping.  In fact only 15% of clinically depressed people get more sleep than when they feel fine but more than 80% of them don’t get enough sleep!  A great indicator of depression can be a person that is waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep.  They could possibly be getting up to six hours of a sleep a night but it’s still enough of a loss to become a problem. 

Now you might be thinking that if you treat the depression that the sleep disorder will magically disappear.  It doesn’t generally work that way.  Studies have shown that the sleep disorder is actually what starts the cycle, not the depression.  Many people that suffer from clinical depression noted they had trouble sleeping for up to five weeks before they began experiencing the depression symptoms.  If a sleep disorder is caught while a person is still functioning in a normal emotional state, it most likely will not lead to depression.  However, once a person becomes depressed their sleep disorder generally worsens.  Research that was currently conducted points toward the fact that insomnia may not cause depression but if insomnia is treated it may result in few depressive episodes for a person suffering from clinical depression.

Not only does depression affect how much sleep (or lack of sleep) a person gets, it also plays a role in what kind of sleep they get.  A person suffering from depression will have a shorter and sometimes barely existent early stage of sleep.  Instead of going through the normal phases of all the sleep cycles, the brain tends to skip forward to REM sleep.  REM sleep is what allows us to deal with our emotions and convert memories.  A depressed person will stay in this stage much longer than a non depressed person.  Not only is a depressed person skipping vital stages of sleep, they have different effects from REM sleep.  Where as a non depressed person will convert memories in a positive way, a depressed person is going to convert their memories incorrectly and put them in a more negative light.

These studies have been done only on unipolar depressed people.  This means that these people get depressed but they never suffer a manic phase.  Bipolar disorder is a form of manic depression.  Please note that a manic depressive’s inability to sleep is completely different than in unipolar patients.  It is normally associated with the manic phase of the disorder.

By now you should hopefully see that there is obviously a link between sleep and depression.  An exact relationship between the two hasn’t been completely determined but you can see that there is definitely a link between the two issues.  What has been gathered, and is known, is that people who are prone to depression and are also suffering from insomnia should immediately seek treatment.

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  1. I had the same symptoms with insomnia and depression also. I lost my job in August of 2001 and was out of work. I thought I would get another job soon after and got engaged. Than 9-11 happened and there were no jobs, I had bills piling up and living very close to NY, every liitle noise would keep me up. I was starting to feel like it would neve get better. I know how insomnia felt and it was the worst feeling.