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Insomnia can 'perpetuate depression' in elderly adults

Insomnia can 'perpetuate depression' in elderly adults
1st April 2008

A good night's sleep could help prevent elderly individuals succumbing to depression, it has emerged.

Research published in the journal 'SLEEP' highlights that persistent insomnia can perpetuate depression among the elderly.

The study, which was conducted at the University of Rochdale Medical Centre in New York, tested 1,801 elderly patients with major depressive disorder and/or dysthymia .

Each patient was assigned an insomnia status group: persistent, intermediate, and no insomnia, based on insomnia scores at both baseline and three-month time points.

It was found that patients with persistent insomnia were 1.8 to 3.5 times more likely to remain depressed, compared with patients with no insomnia.

Dr Wilfred Pigeon, the lead researcher, noted: "While the findings make intuitive sense, until relatively recently insomnia was often considered a symptom that dissipated without active intervention once a primary condition like depression was treated, instead of being considered a distinct clinical entity that might affect a primary disorder."

The researchers advised that older adults should aim to establish regular sleep routines, avoid napping during the day and avoid staying in bed when not sleeping.

Meanwhile, a recent article in the Chicago Tribune suggested that elderly women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than their male counterparts due to its association with greater psychological distress and higher levels of biomarkers associated with increased risk of Type Two diabetes and heart disease.

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