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New study finds that depression does not cause insomnia

We already know that there's a link between insomnia and depression, but a new study goes further and teaches us something new.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia not only found that men who have trouble falling asleep are at a greater risk of depression (insomnia doubled the risk of depression in older men) but that the link could not be explained by reverse causality.

In other words, the researchers determined that although insomniacs are at a greater risk of depression, there is no evidence that depression causes insomnia.

This is the first time we've heard of such a finding. Hopefully it will pave the way for a better understanding of the link between sleep disorders and depression in the future.

Source: ScienceDirect

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Last updated: September 2, 2011

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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  • A. Marina Fournier
    September 3, 2011, 1:30 am

    Serzone is a medication, pulled by its mfr in 2004, due to incidences of liver failure, some of which lead to death. In 2000, I was prescribed it by a psychiatrist who never seemed to listen to what I said, because it contradicted His Opinions (well, that’s what it seemed like). It was supposed to be for depressed persons who were experiencing insomnia. I said, I’m an insomniac experiencing depression, and it’s not the same thing (as we here all know). I also said, no benzodiazepine or sleep med, OTC or not, has ever worked for me. Don’t try to give me sleep meds, they won’t work.

    Instead of allowing me to sleep, it actively kept me awake: I could feel the interference. That’s what most of the benzodiazepines did, if they had worked the first time or not. One of the side effects of Serzone CAN be insomnia, but for the most part, it was thought to have less sleep disturbance and libido impact than most SSRIs.

    Each time I saw him, I said the insomnia was getting worse, and each time he increased the dosage. When the insomnia got so bad that my body was so starved for sleep that my knees were buckling a lot, I’d had enough, fired him, and went off cold turkey, not that that was a problem. It had never helped my depression, and it made my insomnia worse.

    As it turns out, he was the last psychiatrist I fired, and the therapist I’d just left was the last one of those I fired, too. The Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) study (for dosage and effectiveness in treating treatment-resistant depression of any kind) at Stanford Medical School, in autumn-winter 2000, was such a difference–we are all listened to intently, and they were happy to see those of us who took to it, feeling better. Didn’t do anything for my sleep, but I was so much less depressed. One day, I realized that I didn’t have to settle for idiots like the last two old coot psychiatrists with delusions of godhood, because here were living examples of their opposites.

    They restarted the study in early 2001. At that point, I had no SSRI in my system, and the rTMS wasn’t as effective. A few days after my son and I had been dx’d as bipolar, in early March, I went to the study lead and told him I was in danger of falling out of the protocols for the study. Ideally, we were to be off any anti-depressants or to make no changes in dosage, but he decided that I was under his care, and prescribed Effexor XR, which I am still on today. I’ve had different dosages over the years, but it’s still working. For me, the rTMS intensified the SSRI action. It’s now available in specialized clinics.

    BTW, when next I went searching for a pdoc, that summer after the study, I called a good dozen who were on the insurance list. We were still living in Santa Cruz, but I was looking around Stanford because Stanford was a better locked ward than Santa Cruz’s Dominican Hospital, and it wasn’t a religious institution.

    I left fairly detailed voice mail (of course, no one answered any of the numbers I called), including my depression history, and what I was looking for. As usual, maybe four vms were returned, mostly saying their practice was full, or they didn’t handle my insurance. A few (male) who returned my calls hadn’t paid attention to the information I’d left, because they asked me the same questions to which I had left answers. The lone woman who returned my voice mail *thanked me for all the info she was going to have to ask for anyway*. I’m still seeing her, in spite of a 75-90 minute drive each way.

    So, who decided Serzone was going to work on insomnia, anyhow? Probably someone who didn’t study chronic insomniacs, but only folk with mild sleep problems. I suspect we have each had physicians and medical personnel who simply don/t/won’t/can’t listen when what we say counters what they “know” to be true.