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Study Supports Insomnia as Risk Factor for Depression

Emerging research suggests a link between insomnia and dysfunctional emotional regulation.

Investigators discovered neurobiological evidence for dysfunction in neural circuitry, a finding that may have implications for relationship between insomnia and depression.

As many as 10 to 15 percent of adults have an insomnia disorder with distress or daytime impairment, and nearly 7 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from major depressive disorder.

Both insomnia and depression are more common in women than in men.

“Insomnia has been consistently identified as a risk factor for depression,” said lead author Peter Franzen, Ph.D.

“Alterations in the brain circuitry underlying emotion regulation may be involved in the pathway for depression, and these results suggest a mechanistic role for sleep disturbance in the development of psychiatric disorders.”

Researchers followed 14 individuals with chronic primary insomnia without other primary psychiatric disorders, as well as 30 good sleepers who served as a control group.

Participants underwent an functional magnetic resonance imaging scan during an emotion regulation task in which they were shown negative or neutral pictures.

They were asked to passively view the images or to decrease their emotional responses using cognitive reappraisal, a voluntary emotion regulation strategy in which you interpret the meaning depicted in the picture in order to feel less negative.

Researchers discovered that the primary insomnia group had significantly higher activity in the amygdala brain region during reappraisal than during passive viewing.

Located deep within the temporal lobe of the brain, the amygdala plays an important role in emotional processing and regulation.

In analysis between groups, amygdala activity during reappraisal trials was significantly greater in the primary insomnia group compared with good sleepers. The two groups did not significantly differ when passively viewing negative pictures.

“Previous studies have demonstrated that successful emotion regulation using reappraisal decreases amygdala response in healthy individuals,” said Franzen. “Yet we were surprised that activity was even higher during reappraisal of, versus passive viewing of, pictures with negative emotional content in this sample of individuals with primary insomnia.”

Source: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Study Supports Insomnia as Risk Factor for Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Study Supports Insomnia as Risk Factor for Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/05/23/study-supports-insomnia-as-risk-factor-for-depression/55171.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.