October 10, 2008

Teen insomnia link to depression

[Posted: Wed 01/10/2008 by Deborah Condon]

Teenagers with symptoms of insomnia may be at an increased risk of developing mental health problems, including depression and suicidal feelings, the results of a new study indicate.

These teens also appear more likely to use alcohol, cannabis and other drugs such as cocaine.

The US study involved 4,494 teenagers aged 12-18. All were followed for six to seven years. During that time, information was gained on a range of topics including height, weight, puberty, mental health status and chronic health conditions.

Teenagers who reported having trouble falling asleep every day or almost every day were categorised as having insomnia symptoms. Meanwhile suicidal feelings were based on whether the participant had reported having thoughts of suicide within the last year.

The researchers found that teens who had symptoms of insomnia were 2.3 times more likely to develop depression in early adulthood compared to teens without insomnia.

Those in the insomnia group were also more likely to use alcohol, cannabis and other illegal drugs and were more likely to have suicidal thoughts and to actually attempt suicide.

The study also noted gender differences that were irrespective of insomnia symptoms. Males were significantly more likely to endorse alcohol use, cannabis use and the use of other drugs, while females were twice as likely to develop depression.

"Previous research in adults has found similar results to this study. The current study suggests adolescents with insomnia are more prone to developing mental disorders, specifically depression,” said lead author Brandy Roane of the University of North Texas.

Overall, insomnia symptoms were reported by almost one in 10 of the teenagers who took part. The researchers believe that this information could potentially provide a sign of a risk factor for the development of mental health problems.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Sleep.

For more information on depression, click on…http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/depression/index.html