Boffins have found that chronic insomnia might increase one's chances of developing anxiety disorders and depression.
Insomnia lasts only a few days and goes away without treatment in many people. However, factors such as stress can cause a higher level of insomnia that might last for several weeks and if left untreated could lead to both short- and long-term health problems.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Dag Neckelmann at the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway.
As part of the study, researchers analysed data collected from 25,130 adults from two general health surveys.
The study found significant relations between the longitudinal course of chronic insomnia and the development of anxiety disorders and depression. Compared to the group of participants without chronic insomnia in both surveys, the group with chronic insomnia had increased associations to having developed anxiety disorders and depression.
"Chronic insomnia is a state marker of both anxiety disorder and depression," Neckelmann said.
"From a clinical point of view, these results imply that individuals reporting chronic insomnia, in addition to receiving adequate treatment for their sleep disturbance, should be carefully examined for the presence of anxiety disorder as well as depression," Neckelmann added.
The researchers suggested that many mental disorders could be detected earlier if anxiety and depression are linked to chronic insomnia.
"Focusing on chronic insomnia as a symptom of both anxiety and depression may facilitate the early detection of a mental disorder, as well as the detection of comorbidity," Nechelmann said.
The findings of the study were published in the July issue of the journal SLEEP.