insomnia and suicidality

Counselors need to keep regular watch over the insomnia of their clients. Untreated or unresolved insomnia predicts poor recovery and lesser benefit from therapy. It ought not be treated as a secondary problem. But a recent abstract sent to me via email suggests that insomnia may also be a significant factor in suicidal ideation and action. Some researchers at Wake Forest followed 60 adults with both insomnia and major depression for 9 weeks. All received antidepressants but some received a sleep aid as well. Both were assessed by using the Hamilton Depression Scale and an insomnia severity scale.

Their findings suggest that insomnia is a factor in suicidal ideation independent of depression or lack of pleasure. Insomnia leads to more intense suicidal thoughts. Thus, counselors ought to redouble their efforts to ask about insomnia, to track it and to especially follow-up with questions about suicidal ideation or plans when complaints of insomnia increase.

Interested readers may find the abstract of the research here.


Filed under christian counseling, counseling, counseling science, counseling skills, Depression, Uncategorized

4 responses to “insomnia and suicidality

  1. Very interesting study. I’ve wondered about the effects of insomina before. Insomina is a symptom of anxiety and depression, but I wonder how much it also leads to anxiety and depression. Is it an endless cycle? Also, if the study found that insomina increased suicidal ideation independent of depression, what else is sleep deprivation doing to people? Knowing how I feel when I simply get a poor night’s sleep, I could imagine that it might have a big impact. All your problems seem bigger when you’re tired.

  2. After eight years of unsuccessful treatment for severe insomnia, I decided enough was enough and to find a way to sleep again naturally. The tips that most sites give are useless and undoubtedly written by a doctor who has never struggled to sleep. I hope my tips work better for you. They’re not a quick fix, but I am sleeping now for the first time since I can remember and want to help everyone. I’ve made a list of eight things that work for me here:

    I hope it works for you.

  3. And Erica, NHTHS.BS, If you’ve never had insomnia, you shouldn’t just regurgitate what you read. Insomnia CAUSES depression and anxiety. Not the other way around, as per popular belief. There are a lot more medications for anxiety and depression than there are insomnia, and there’s a lot of money there. It figures anxiety -> insomnia is the popular “belief”.

    • Ana, please be respectful as you communicate to others here. Also, anxiety CAN cause insomnia. In fact, it can go both ways. If you think there is actual research evidence to back up your assertion that the relationship between the two is only one way, please cite.

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