Depression and Sleep

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difficult. Depression not only affects the way a person feels and thinks but research suggests that it is also associated with serious chronic health problems such as heart disease. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is very important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

SYMPTOMS:

Symptoms of depression vary from person to person. The following is a list of the most common symptoms. Some depression patients have only one of these, while others may have some, most or all:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and sadness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable
  • Concentration problems
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of libido
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Loss of energy
  • Insomnia

Depression may also be accompanied by anxiety, low self-esteem, and physical symptoms such as back pain, headaches and gastrointestinal problems. Sleep problems such as insomnia and daytime sleepiness are often among the most debilitating features of depression.

Depressive illness may take different forms, including major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, and bipolar disorder. MDD refers to an impaired ability to eat, sleep, work, think, enjoy activities and feel pleasure. Dysthymia is a mild yet more persistent form of depression. Another form of depressive illness is bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness), which is characterized by extreme highs and lows. During high phases, bipolar patients may be energetic, talkative, and joyful. During lows, they experience symptoms of depression.

TREATMENT:

Treatment for depression typically involves a combination of psychotherapy (including cognitive-behavioral therapy) and/or pharmacological (drug) treatment. Each of these therapies may be used to treat both depression and insomnia and treatment for sleep problems is often an integral part of depression therapy.

Treatment for depression may be complicated by sleep disorders. For example, patients with both OSA and depression should avoid sedating antidepressant medications due to their potential to suppress breathing and worsen OSA. Before beginning therapy for depression, talk to your physician about any sleep symptoms you are experiencing. In some cases, effectively treating the sleep problem may be enough to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a behavioral approach