Insomnia Closely Related to Depression, Anxiety
> 7/9/2007 11:36:02 AM

Though the nature of the equation varies throughout test groups, individuals reporting chronic sleep problems are significantly more likely to suffer from concurrent cases of mood disorders, and long-term insomnia may be particularly susceptible to anxiety diagnoses. A Norwegian study consisting of two periods of measurement separated by 11 years found that subjects who reported chronic insomnia (pronounced difficulties falling or staying asleep for more than one month) in the 1984-86 period were several times as likely to suffer from anxiety disorder in some form when interviewed again in 1995-97.

The relationships between insomnia and depression and insomnia and anxiety seem to be nearly opposite: depression is more likely to cause insomnia, whereas anxiety most often results from it. Sleep problems are in fact one of the most common symptoms of depression, which may in turn effect or be effected by  pronounced, on-going states of anxiety. Most recurring psychiatric disorders, from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to drug addiction, list insomnia as a primary side-effect. The exact cause-and-effect relationship is difficult to determine, as anxiety, either conditional or chronic, very often directly affects sleep patterns which in turn create or intensify anxieties. After controlling for all considered variables and excluding patients who reported depression or anxiety problems at the time of the first survey, researchers found, interestingly, that insomnia brought about anxiety but not depression, as the number of depressive patients did not increase significantly. Depression and insomnia are, however, most definitely related. While those who reported insomnia in the first survey were not especially more likely to suffer from depression 11 years later, insomniacs were more likely to be simultaneously depressed and vice versa.

A large share of the anxiety recorded in this study likely came from the insufficient rest and restorative capacity afforded an insomniac's body. One night without enough sleep almost always leaves one irritable and lethargic, especially when brought on by over-consumption (of alcohol, etc.) Over time, a serious sleep deficit develops, and it can compromise nearly all mental and physical functions. The problem is hardly limited to those already suffering from mental illness - a large share of adults do not get enough sleep to function properly, often operating under the false assumption that one can make up such deficits by sleeping in on weekends, taking small naps, or remaining sedentary during personal time. The widely accepted 6 to 8 hour-per-night sleep standard is understated, and many sleep deprived individuals incorrectly believe their deficits to be negligable. The effects of poor sleep patterns are profound, however: heart disease, hypertension, elevated blood pressure and weight gain due to disruptions in appetite and digestive process are only some of the easily observable physical results. One's cognitive acuity obviously suffers as well. Those suffering from insomnia should realize how damaging it can be and seek possible diagnosis for other related mental illness, as their problems may well be compounded by depression or anxiety. And those who know that they don't get enough sleep but decide to soldier on anyway should seriously reconsider their positions.

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