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How Effective are Antidepressants for Insomnia?

By Jessica F. Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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Antidepressants for insomnia, a chronic failure to sleep, can be extremely effective depending on the causes of sleeplessness but are not often prescribed to treat sleep disorders without an underlying cause. There are many traits of depression that can be an underlying cause of insomnia, and medical professionals generally focus on treating the primary source of the problem in order to eradicate secondary symptoms. Numerous medications have been devised to treat chronic sleep disorders, but antidepressants for insomnia gradually work on relieving anxiety, stress, sadness, or trauma that can provoke a deep restlessness.

Depression and insomnia usually coexist, which results in the comprehensive treatment of both disorders. Many of the over-the-counter sleep aids are recommended for temporary use only and might mask a more dominant disorder such as depression or other mental conditions. People with habitual sleeplessness should seek professional treatment in order to determine whether a severe mental or physical condition is present. Prescription sleep aids can be habit-forming, but most antidepressants for insomnia can be prescribed for long periods of time without experiencing addiction.

The chemical balance created by antidepressants can often assist the body in retraining itself to sleep, and the improved mood of the patient usually helps them acquire a healthier schedule. Although sleep aids and prescription sleeping pills generally induce rest, the untreated problems behind the sleep disorder may leave the patient exhausted regardless of a good night's rest. A thorough mental evaluation and sometimes physical examination are performed before any medication is prescribed because there are symptoms of depression that mirror symptoms of other disorders.

Antidepressants manipulate neurotransmitters in order to return the body and mind to its normal state, and a physician prescribes different types for various imbalances. Although antidepressants for insomnia may be the main source of treatment, a doctor will usually suggest other personal changes to assist with anxiety and sleeplessness. Positive nutrition, practicing relaxation techniques, and reducing stress can all help a patient restore healthy routines and, in turn, allow the patient to sleep well.

The combination of treatments, medication, and therapy available for patients allows antidepressants for insomnia to be effective on many levels. Cases that are not likely to be treated with this type of medical regimen are physical disorders that cause sleeplessness. Sleep apnea, constant pauses in breathing while sleeping, is a common medical cause for insomnia because throughout the night the body is repeatedly awoken by difficulty breathing. The treatment of this disorder differs greatly, and usually breathing devices or surgery is required depending on the severity, number, and length of time that breathing ceases.

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