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Research on Depression

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According to a recent research project, men who have trouble falling asleep generally have a greater likelihood of developing depression than those who fall asleep easily. The study, conducted at the Western Australian Center for Health and Aging (part of the University of Western Australia) also noted that difficulty as it applies to falling asleep happens to double depression risk in older men.

"We found a strong link between difficulty falling asleep and depression which cannot be explained adequately by reverse causality that is, that depression causes insomnia. We didn't expect to find this result, so it took us by surprise," said UWA Chair of Geriatric Psychiatry and Director of Research at the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing, Winthrop Professor Osvaldo Almeida.

"Excuse the pun, but our results are a wakeup call. I believe that clarifying what drives the association between sleep problems and depression should become an international research priority. Worryingly, our results are consistent with the possibility that the use of sleeping tablets is actually driving this increase in the risk of depression. Addressing this issue may guide the development of prevention strategies to decrease the burden of depression in our society.”

In order to come to their conclusions, researchers examined 5,127 participants, 60 percent of which complained that they had trouble sleeping. Of that group, 18 percent reported having trouble falling asleep, 10 percent remained awake for large portions of the night and 72 percent woke up early in the mornings.

"Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects between 5 and 15 per cent of adults over 65. People need to be aware that depression is not a normal part of ageing.

"Sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health in our senior years as it was when we were younger. Nevertheless, some changes in your sleep are natural as you age."

The research conducted was part of the Health in Men Study (HIMS) which has featured and observed a group of men living in Perth, Western Australia since 1996.
Details regarding the study were posted in the June 2011 issue of Journal of Affective Disorders.

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