Treating Insomnia With Special Talk Therapy Can Make a Difference in Depression

CBS News – Dr. Max Gomez: Helping Depressed Patients Get Some Sleep Development Could Make A Huge Difference For Many Depression Sufferers

A new study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health found that treating insomnia in people with depression could double their chances for full recovery.

Insomnia is an extremely common problem associated with depressions affecting more than half of the 18 million depressed patients in the country. CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports on the findings of the study which could make a significant difference for people fighting depression. The development was also reported by the New York Times.

I have been suffering from depression for quite some time and it’s almost impossible to sleep,” Michelle said. Michelle said that she would go for days or weeks without sleeping if she didn’t take her sleep medication and it made her depression worse. “It can make you not focused and irritable. It can make you feel not part of the community of the world. It can make you feel like an alien,” she said.

It is unclear whether insomnia is a symptom or a cause of depression but a number of studies are looking at whether treating insomnia with special talk therapy can make a difference in depression.

“They started treating the insomnia right at the same time they started treating the depression and by treating both simultaneously they doubled the remission rate,” explained Dr. Alan Manevitz, Lenox Hill Hospital.

That was double the rate of remission seen with anti-depression drugs like Prozac and with conventional talk therapy. The therapy used is known as cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia or CBT-I for short. It consists of an inexpensive course that is done twice a week for four weeks and involves teaching patients to set and stick to a regular wake up time, get out of bed during wake periods, avoid food, reading, or TV in bed, and to eliminate daytime napping.

“That’s huge. To be able to double the rates of depression remission. Anything that can do that is remarkable,” Dr. Manevitz said.

Patients agreed. “I think it would be a huge breakthrough if you could treat insomnia as its own disease,” Michelle said.

There are several larger studies being done to confirm the findings of the initial study by the University of Toronto. While no therapy works for everyone, experts believe that by combining talk therapy with other treatments the treating of depression could be revolutionized.