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Relationship Between Depression and Sleep Disturbance Essay

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Updated: May 20th, 2020

Many researchers posit that people who suffer from depression mostly experience sleep disturbance. Although some sleeping disturbances are perceived as signs of depression, some patients develop such symptoms earlier. The relationship that exists between sleeping disturbance and depression is a complex phenomenon that has left unanswered questions amongst psychologists. This essay critically reviews the relationship that exists between depression and sleep disturbance with regards to various studies that have been conducted in the two conditions.

Persistent Sleep Disturbance: A Risk Factor for Recurrent Depression in Community-Dwelling Older Adults by Lee et al.

A research conducted by Lee et al. indicated that there was a relationship between depression and sleep disturbance (1685). It was revealed that a risk factor relation existed where persistent sleep disturbances led to the development of depression in subsequent years (Lee et al. 1685). However, there was a confusion that was noted in the study. It was emphasized that persistent disturbance, its severity, and the intermittent nature of the sleep were not associated with depression and its recurrence in the following years. Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusions that sleep disturbance leads to depression (Lee et al. 1685).

Although many findings confirmed that sleep disturbance led to depression, as shown in the studies, an indication that such results were consistent amongst participants of different age bracket was difficult to prove. This situation arose from the limitation of the study on adults alone.

Sleep Disturbance and Depression: Risk Relationships for Subsequent Depression and Therapeutic Implications by Franzen and Buysse.

This article focuses on the cross-sectional association that exists between sleep disturbance and major depression disorder (MDD). MDD is a type of disorder that occurs in patients with insomnia (Franzen and Buysse 473). Further longitudinal relationships were built to examine the risks of sleep disorders, and the development of depression, implications of sleep disturbances, clinical course, and patient response to treatment. Lastly, the research focused on the effectiveness of the intervention for the improvement of sleep (Franzen and Buysse 473).

The researchers exposed that depression and sleep disturbances are directly related. They arrived at this point by elaborating research conducted by Tsuno, Besset, and Ritchie in 2005, where 90 percent of the patients with depressions had sleeping disturbances (Tsuno, Besset, and Ritchie 1254). From a personal viewpoint, such conclusions are wrong since sleeping disturbance can occur due to several reasons that include the side effects of treatments, stress, shock, and age, among others.

In other cases, depression is noted to be the cause of chronic sleep disturbance and insomnia rather than vice versa. Other researchers have also indicated that sleeping disorders always occur in patients with mood disorders prior to depression symptoms. It can even occur without the depression that follows subsequently (Tsuno, Besset, and Ritchie 1254).

The sleeping disturbance is a risk factor that leads to depression in the end. I agree with Franzen and Buysse concerning this statement as they proved this phenomenon using their longitudinal studies (473). According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, the two researchers mentioned that people are more prone to develop new depression episodes with recurrent sleeping disturbances (Franzen and Buysse 473).

Franzen and Buysse suggest that earlier diagnosis of sleeping disturbances may help in the treatment of depression (473). At this point, I disagree with the notion of earlier diagnosis and treatment. My suggestion is that diagnosis should be conducted on the causes of sleeping disturbance that can occur due to psychological problems. On the longitudinal study aspect, I further object the notion that sleeping disturbances and depressions are longitudinally related. This fact is also confirmed by other researchers who have noted that sleeping disturbance (without depression) and depression (without sleeping disturbance) are not longitudinally related (Pigeon et al. 481).

Some studies also indicated that there were no relationships that existed between depression and sleeping disturbances. Sleeping disturbances do not precede depression (Franzen and Buysse, 473). Perhaps, such ideas are unsubstantiated. For example, a study conducted by Perlis et al. in 2006 involving 147 adults to test sleeping disturbance and history of mental problems indicated that they were likely to develop the condition (104). The scores were based on the Hamilton Scale following a duration separated by one year. Participants with frequent sleep disturbances were likely to develop new episodes of depression during the follow-up since their scores were one and above when compared with those who scored zero (Perlis 104).

A separate longitudinal study involving 524 adults indicated a prediction of depression in subsequent years due to sleep disturbances only when other risk factors were included (Pigeon et al. 481). It was also indicated that patients with sleeping disturbances were prone to depression, especially when follow-ups were not done. There is clarity that sleeping disturbances are related to depression and mood disorders. The research also reveals that sleep disturbances that occur during the treatment period interfere with the healing process.

The Relationship between Depression and Sleep Disturbances: Japanese Nationwide General Population Survey by Kaneita et al.

The article stated was based on the research conducted by Kaneita et al. to shed light on the relationships that existed between depression and sleep disturbance (196). The researchers based their arguments on aspects such as sleep duration, presence or absence of insomnia symptoms, and sleep sufficiency with regards to depression amongst the Japanese population (Kaneita et al. 198). The evaluation was done by measuring the presence of depression using the Center for Epidemiologic Study Depression Scale (CESDS). The results showed that the participants who slept for less than 6 hours had a high chance of developing depression. This case was also noted amongst the ones who spent 8 hours and above in sleep. However, individuals whose sleeping duration fell between 6 and 8 hours were less likely to develop depression. Following such results, it was noted that sleep duration was associated with depression symptoms. It was further identified that insufficient sleep significantly increased depression symptoms (Kaneita et al. 200).

Although the research clarified the relationship between the sleep status and symptoms of depression, I do not support the conclusion because it factored the resting statuses and symptoms of depression rather than sleep disturbances. An examination of what increases or decreases the sleeping duration should be examined. Long sleeping time can be caused by too much work or sickness.

A Meta-Analysis and Model of the Relationship between Sleep and Depression in Adolescents: Recommendations for Future Research and Clinical Practice by Nicole L. and Michael G.

The research showed that relationships exist between depressions and sleep disturbances, especially amongst adolescents (Lovato and Gradisar 104). The findings showed that the respondents with depression had sleeping disturbances. This situation was confirmed by their significant wakefulness in their beds and minimal sleeping time. The analysis of the longitudinal treatment studies indicated that they were likely to suffer from depression. They recommended that the participants should maintain good sleep besides adopting a treatment plan with behavioral and cognitive components. This remedy was recommended for decreasing the onsets of the depressive situations (Lovato and Gradisar 104).

Although similarities existed between depression and sleeping disturbances in the study, a closer examination of the findings indicated that the sleeping disturbances caused depression in adolescents. However, both conditions can serve as symptoms of each other. This situation was evident were adolescents who suffered from depression had sleep disturbances. This situation compelled them to remain awake.

The studies present conflicting discussions since it remains unclear whether sleep disturbance causes depression or vice versa. The underpinning that both conditions have a causal relationship is also vague. One cannot clearly deduce whether early treatments of depression reduce sleep disturbances since the healing process can also cause a sleeping disturbance. The research brings about the knowledge that one condition can be a symptom of the other.


The selected studies have identified that sleeping disturbances are risk factors associated with depression. It is true that they can occur in patients of different age groups ranging from children to adults. Some studies have also noted that sleeping disturbances can worsen the severity of depression. Following this discussion, there is a need to conduct further research to seek clarity on the relationships that exist between depression and sleep disturbance. It should also focus on determining whether sleep disturbances are true depression risk factors. Clear diagnoses and treatment that involve both cognitive and behavioral components should be initiated at earlier stages to minimize the later repercussions that result from either of the two conditions.

Works Cited

Franzen, Peter, and Daniel Buysse. “Sleep disturbances and depression: risk relationships for subsequent depression and therapeutic implications.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience 10.4 (2008): 473. Print.

Kaneita, Yoshitaka, Takashi Ohida, Makoto Uchiyama, Shinji Takemura, Kazuo Kawahara, Elise Yokoyama, Takeo Miyake, Satoru Harano, Kenshu Suzuki and Toshiharu Fujita. “The relationship between depression and sleep disturbances: a Japanese nationwide general population survey.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 67.2 (2006): 196-203. Print.

Lee, Eun, Hyong Cho, Richard Olmstead, Myron Levin, Michael Oxman, and Michael Irwin. “Persistent sleep disturbance: a risk factor for recurrent depression in community-dwelling older adults.” Sleep 36.11 (2013): 1685. Print.

Lovato, Nicole, and Michael Gradisar. “A meta-analysis and model of the relationship between sleep and depression in adolescents: recommendations for future research and clinical practice.” Sleep Medicine Reviews 18.6 (2014): 521-529. Print.

Perlis, Michael, Leisha Smith, Jeffrey Lyness, Sara Matteson, Wil Pigeon, Carla Jungquist, and Xin Tu. “Insomnia is a risk factor for the onset of depression in the elderly.” Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 4.2 (2006): 104-113. Print.

Pigeon, Wilfred, Mark Hegel, Jürgen Unützer, Ming-Yu Fan, Michael Sateia, Jeffrey Lyness, Cindy Phillips, and Michael Perlis. “Is insomnia a perpetuating factor for late-life depression in the IMPACT cohort?” Sleep 31.4 (2008): 481. Print.

Tsuno, Norifumi, Alain Besset, and Karen Ritchie. “Sleep and Depression.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 66.1 (2005): 1254-1264. Print.

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