Insomnia and Mental Disorders and Techniques to Come Out

Poor sleep can make us feel down, worried, and stressed. So it’s no surprise that how well we sleep has a direct impact on our physical and mental health. Sleep problems such as insomnia are a common symptom of many mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The relationship between insomnia and mental illness is bidirectional: about 50 percent of adults with insomnia have a mental health problem, while up to 90 percent of adults with depression experience sleep problems.

Sleep problems can also create a loop, slowing recovery from mental illness. People with depression who continue to experience insomnia, for instance, are less likely to respond to treatment for depression. They are also at greater risk of relapse than those without sleeping problems.

Insomnia and Mental Disorders and Techniques to Come Out
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Emotional processing

It is unclear how insomnia makes a person more likely to develop mental illness. Research suggests, however, that it may affect our ability to process negative emotions.

In one study, sleep-deprived people were found to show greater emotional reactivity to unpleasant images than to pleasant images or images with neutral emotional content. People who weren’t sleep-deprived showed no differences in emotional reactivity.

In another study, brain scans revealed that people with insomnia showed greater activity in the brain’s emotional processing area when they used a strategy to reduce their negative reactions to images than when they did not use this strategy.

That suggests insomnia makes it difficult to react appropriately to negative emotions. This may exacerbate their sleep difficulties and make them vulnerable to experiencing depression.

Cognitive behavior therapy treatment of insomnia includes training in how to interpret emotional information less negatively.

There is also some evidence that mental illnesses may arise from problems within brain circuits that overlap with those that regulate our body clocks or sleepiness timing system.

Everyone needs sleep, but many of us have problems with it. You might recognize some of the experiences listed below, or have other difficulties with sleep that aren't mentioned here.

You might:

  • Have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, or psychosis

  • Find it hard to wake up or get out of bed

  • Often feel tired or sleepy – this could be because you're not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep, or because of health problems

  • Sleep a lot – which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake.

If you're having problems sleeping, you might:

  • Be more likely to feel anxious, depressed, or suicidal

  • Be more likely to have psychotic episodes – poor sleep can trigger mania, psychosis, or paranoia, or make existing symptoms worse

  • Feel lonely or isolated – for example, if you don't have the energy to see people or they don't seem to understand

  • Struggle to concentrate, or make plans and decisions

  • Feel irritable or do not have the energy to do things

  • Have problems with day to day life – for example, at work or with family and friends

  • Be more affected by other health problems, including mental health problems.