Friday, April 18, 2008

Sleep and Depression

In the past three weeks, Robert and I have been to the Atlantic Ocean and to the Pacific. I like that. We went to New York for fun - and found it while exploring the city with two of our sons. We went to California so Robert could give a talk to marriage and family therapists about sleep and its impact on mental health.

Does sleep impact mental health?

There's only one reasonable answer. Duh. Otherwise, what on earth would Robert have spoken about?

However, most people don't think that way. We think sleep is another biological necessity to check off the to-do list. But in a country where millions of dollars are spent on antidepressants, maybe it's smart to think about how sleep affects our mental status. So, today we'll begin.

Let's start with depression, since it's so common. Here are some facts:

--Sleep deprivation makes depression worse.
--If a depressed person has insomnia, the depression is more severe and the risk of suicide is higher.
--People with insomnia are more likely to have repeat episodes of depression.
--Excessive sleepiness may be a symptom of depression, but more depressed people suffer from insomnia.
--People with sleep apnea or Periodic LImb Movement Disorder have higher rates of depression.

If you're depressed, you need to get help, and that comes in many forms -- medications, talk therapy, exercise, etc. But don't forget to get your sleep. It can help too. Share your experiences in this forum and tell us what's worked and what hasn't.

(By the way, if you're wondering whether you might be depressed, here's a link to a quiz at the website that can help you decide.)

For a brief discussion on how antidepressants affect your sleep, read this column:


Anonymous said...

Depression is hell. It makes sense it would affect sleep (or vice versa) because it affects everything else.

Anonymous said...

As someone who suffers from Bipolar disorder I know that not getting enough sleep can send me into a manic state.
My main problem though is not being able to get up. I like to have about 12 hours of sleep to feel like I have the energy to get out of bed.

Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner said...

You're right, Anonymous. Sleep problems are related to bipolar disorder. Often in the manic phase, it's difficult to sleep. As for 12 hours of sleep at night, is that during a depressive phase? You might want to check with your physician to look at your medications and see if there's any adjustment that could help normalize your sleep pattern.