Turning The Tides on Depression and Insomnia

Once in a "blue moon" (as my mother used to say) not sleeping is no reason for alarm. In the world today there are literally thousands of external stressors that will cause an occasional bout of acute insomnia. These stressors won't always lead you to a bad case of depression and insomnia. On that occasional sleepless night, you are best served by simply using the awake time to catch up on some reading, watch a good movie, and otherwise not concern yourself that you'll never sleep again.

It's only when insomnia turns chronic and habitual that we have to look at the underlying causes, to try and find a solution that helps. And by helping to solve the problem without hurting us in some way we must look to natural remedies first, otherwise our treatments can result in having a reverse of their intended effect. Certain medications for example, such as over the counter and prescription sleeping pills, can hinder our body's own natural ability to affect sleep and therefor they should be considered as only a last resort, and most importantly, only as a short term solution. Being dependent on prescription sleep aids is not a good road to travel.

I'm always on the hunt for solutions that do not involve drugs or other harmful treatments but that statement comes with this disclaimer: I'm not a tree hugging, psychedelic alternative medicine guru wannabe. Not in the least. Dwelling on finding natural solutions comes only from seeing the research and thus knowing that they are highly effective - sometimes more so than their pharmacological counterparts. Just so we're all clear, prescription sleep aids truly do have their place in treating insomnia. By applying natural insomnia cures as a first response, we are allowing our body a chance to prove it can cure itself. As a rule, attempting the least invasive approach first is just good common sense.

How Does Insomnia Lead To Depression?

The interesting thing about natural sleep disorder treatments is that many also come highly recommended as effective treatments for depression. Knowing this, we can make a logical mental leap that it's not just the treatments that co-relate, but the disorders themselves. In people suffering depression, there is a significantly lower level of serotonin level in the body. Since serotonin is so crucially important to regulating moods and the body's sleep cycle, it's fairly obvious why having a decreased serotonin production will lead to increased instances of depression. In my last post (Depression and Insomnia Like Each Other, A Lot) I outlined how decreased serotonin and depression leads to insomnia, but just as importantly, chronic insomnia can lead to a decrease in serotonin - which can end in a depressed state.

To be frank however, this is a "chicken and egg" question. Which disorder causes which is rather a redundant path to scrutinize. However there are a few factors to understand when looking at how insomnia can be the cause, not the symptom, of depression. Here's a few obvious reasons:
    • being overtired leads to being less effective at problem solving. Over time a negative reaction can lead to depressive disorders.
    • Fatigue makes it difficult to cope with many stressful situations, leading to depression.
    • Extreme fatigue leads to feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and an inability to control emotional responses. This obviously will lead to depression when left unchecked.
As I've eluded before, treating depression with SSRI medications (such as Prozac and the like) can help reduce insomnia a great deal. But there is also a strong case for how treating insomnia with various natural sleep disorder treatments (like Sleep Tracks) can significantly reduce cases of depression. The two conditions are so closely related that treating one will normally have positive benefits on the other.

If you're feeling like you have a case of the blues, and that it may have something to do with your inability to sleep, I highly recommend a combination of both the Sleep Tracks program and getting to your GP for a prescription SSRI. Neither are dangerous, neither are addictive, and using both in concert is a very effective weapon against both depression and insomnia.