Sleep Therapy for Depression


Pending research on the connection between insomnia and depression offers new prospects for treatment, according to recent articles in the New York Times.  “Psychiatrists have long thought that depression causes insomnia, but new research suggests that insomnia can actually precede and contribute to causing depression,” according to the Times‘ Editorial Board. “Sleep Therapy”, in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia, “Is Expected to Gain a Wider Role in Depression Treatment” according to an article by Times brain & behavior reporter Benedict Carey.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I have a copy of a comic drawn by Sophie Crumb for The Icarus Project on my fridge. It illustrates and encourages the following: “eating well; sleep & rest; exercise; herbs, meds, etc.; having a schedule.” I don’t think the article mentioned exercise as something that helped with sleep, particularly if it’s not before or near bedtime. I often look to that comic as a comforting, common sense reminder, and luckily, it was completely free.

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    • Copy_cat,

      As one who has developed cpap induced insomnia, I can assure you that insomnia is not a hoax. And even if people have it for unknown reasons, it is extremely debilitating.

      I do feel the label is used way too liberally when there are other issues at play that may be a factor as I feel is the situation with me. As a result, people get hit with the CBT-I as a one size fits all solution when that may not be appropriate.

      I also didn’t like the fact that the psychologist seemed to be minimizing a person’s concern about lack of sleep when the effects are debilitating long term. That comes across to me as extremely insulting and patronizing even though I am sure that wasn’t the person’s intention.

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      • I have insomnia. I can’t take a job that requires an early wake up. I don’t like morning people .

        I always resented them for telling me “if you just start getting up early you will get tired at night…”

        NO ! I have had this my whole life, it doesn’t work that way so shut up.

        It was insomnia that started me down the hellish path of psychiatric drugs starting with the line “insomnia is a symptom of depression…”

        No, insomnia is a symptom of being a night owl.

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        • Copy Cat,

          You are absolutely correct that you cannot change having delayed phase syndrome which is what it sounds like you have. I don’t blame you for being resentful.

          However, I have to vehemently disagree with you that insomnia is a symptom of being a night owl. It can be due to a million things and sadly physicians don’t take the time to sort things out usually.

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