Treating sleep loss may prevent depression in older people

Knowridge Science Report
Knowridge Science Report
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In a new study from UCLA Health, researchers found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT-I) prevented major depression, decreasing the likelihood of depression by over 50% in adults over the age of 60 with insomnia.

More than 10% of community-dwelling adults older than 60 years will experience a major depression later in life in any given year.

Late-life depression increases the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure, cognitive decline, and suicide, particularly in men.

Insomnia, a condition where people have difficulty falling and staying asleep, occurs in nearly 50% of adults 60 years of age or older and when it occurs, the risk of depression is more than doubled.

Although various types of sleep medications are often used to treat insomnia, they provide only temporary relief and pose a risk for daytime side effects.

Accordingly, CBT-I is recommended as the first line of treatment for people with insomnia and has been highly effective in its treatment.

This type of therapy typically centers around working with a therapist to help identify and change inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.

In the study, the team enrolled 291 adults 60 years and older with insomnia but who had not experienced any depression for 12 months or longer.

Half the group received CBT-I by a trained psychologist, with the other half receiving sleep education therapy (SET) from a public health educator.

Over the course of 36 months of follow up, the team found that depression occurred in 25.9% of the older adults in the SET control group during follow-up, whereas depression occurred in only 12.2% in the CBT-I group, a 51% reduction in the risk of depression with CBT-I treatment.

Second, remission of insomnia that was continuously sustained during follow-up was more likely in the CBT-I group as compared to SET.

Among those who received CBT-I and had sustained remission of insomnia, the likelihood of depression was reduced by 83%.

Depression occurred in over 27% of the older adults in the SET group who did not have insomnia remission, whereas depression occurred in less than 5% of those in the CBT group who achieved insomnia remission.

These findings suggest that treatment with CBT-I provided strong benefits to prevent incident and recurrent major depressive disorder in older adults with insomnia and that it did so by treating insomnia, a known risk factor for depression.

If you care about depression, please read studies about many older people have worse depression, anxiety during the pandemic and findings of for older people, drugs may treat depression better than exercise.

For more information about depression and your health, please see recent studies about this depression drug can save COVID-19 patients and results showing that this health problem may double your depression risk.

The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry. One author of the study is Dr. Michael Irwin.

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