Online insomnia therapy may help fight depression: Study

Online insomnia therapy may help fight depression: Study

For a layman, insomnia is nothing beyond inability to fall asleep. But for those who suffer from it, “it is a disease that will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking,” said author Clifton Fadiman. It is a major problem in the United States and according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, nearly 30 percent American adults show symptoms of insomnia.

Though sleep disorder need not necessarily cause depression, lack of sleep or bouts of insomnia may fuel the onset of depression, says a recent study by the University of Florida. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in February 2016, suggested a positive correlation between insomnia and increasing risk of depression.

Online therapy showed decreased depression symptoms

Another recent Australian study has suggested that online therapy for insomnia may help depressed people in dealing with the symptoms of the disorder.

The study, “titled ‘Effectiveness of an online insomnia program (SHUTi) for prevention of depressive episodes (the GoodNight Study): a randomized controlled trial,” was done by the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. The researchers asked 1,149 participants to either use an online cognitive behavioral therapy program for insomnia or follow an interactive health program not designed for the treatment of the sleep disorder.

The findings, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry in January 2016, indicated that the participants who were assigned online therapy reported significantly decreased depression symptoms at the end of the six-week program and during a follow-up after six months, compared to their peers in the control group who did not receive the online therapy.

Lead author of the study Helen Christensen, director, chief scientist at the Black Dog Institute and the University of New South Wales in Australia, told Reuters Health, “Most people undertaking the program found benefits to their mental health.”

Depression scores decreased for participants getting online therapy

The SHUTi program, based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), was systematically arranged into six structured, weekly online sessions. Each week, the participants were made to complete a 45-minute interactive learning module, make a brief daily entry of online sleep diaries, utilize the techniques and strategies learned in SHUTi for improving sleep behaviors, thoughts and habits and last, but not the least, receive personalized sleep recommendations and feedback.

The program also included provision of 10 weeks of access to self-help and materials for the purpose of the review. The program that paid particular attention to whether web-based interventions to ameliorate conditions of insomnia helped in getting rid of depression was fully automated with no provision of human support.

The study found that participants who were administered online therapy showed decrease in depression scores to be considered free of the disorder, while the other group displayed symptoms of mild depression.

At the end of six weeks, 71 percent people receiving online therapy had no depression compared to 42 percent receiving interactive health program. At the end of six months, 73 percent getting online therapy had no depression as opposed to 52 percent in the other group.

Though the authors of the study failed to collect and collate information pertaining to those suffering from first-time depression and others seeking treatment for ongoing mental health problems, the findings paved the way for future options of using online therapy as a tool for treating depression, instead of prescribing opioids to manage the condition.

Seeking recovery

The ability to get a sound sleep is a blessing which millions of Americans are deprived of, leading to various mental illnesses, including depression. Sleep is the fuel of life and if you or your loved one has been living without it, it is time to consult a certified medical practitioner.

If you or your loved one is feeling depressed, it’s time to seek treatment from a certified professional at one of the good depression rehabilitation centers. The treatment plan for depression should not be delayed and medication should start as early as possible. Call the Depression Treatment Helpline at 866-619-7729 or chat online for the required support.