Improving Sleep Appears to Indirectly Help Alleviate Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents

From PsyPost comes this piece by Eric W. Dolan on a new study showing the links between better sleep, less repetitive thinking and fewer depressive symptoms in adolescents: 

“New research highlights the role of rumination as a mediator between insomnia and depression symptoms in adolescents. The findings suggest that reducing rumination alongside addressing sleep difficulties may improve therapeutic approaches for depression. The study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Rumination is a repetitive style of thinking that is characterized by persistent negative thoughts and self-reflection, often exacerbating and prolonging negative emotional states. Researchers were motivated to study rumination due to its relevance to both insomnia and depression.

Sleep disturbance is a significant risk factor for the onset and relapse of depression, and targeting sleep has been explored as a means of indirectly reducing depression and other mental illnesses. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), a treatment targeting sleep, has been shown to improve both sleep and depression outcomes. However, the mechanisms linking sleep disturbance and depression, as well as the mechanisms underlying the improvement in depression following CBT-I, are not well understood.

One factor common to both insomnia and depression is rumination. It has been described as an important mechanism underlying insomnia, along with unhelpful beliefs about sleep, according to Harvey’s cognitive model of insomnia. Empirical data supports the association between rumination and sleep disturbance in individuals with insomnia.. . . 

The researchers found a strong connection between difficulties with sleep, feeling depressed, and rumination. Participants who had trouble sleeping were more likely to experience symptoms of depression, and those who ruminated more often were also more likely to feel depressed. Additionally, age and gender play a role, with females reporting more sleep problems, depression symptoms, rumination, and unhelpful beliefs about sleep.

When examining the effects of CBT-I, it was found that reductions in depression symptoms following the therapy could be attributed, at least in part, to reductions in rumination.”

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