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Suicidal thoughts common in depressed people with sleep issues

Filed in
  • Mental Health
  • Sleep Disorders
  • military

By Lynn Celmer  |  Feb 07, 2013
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A new study found an association between insomnia symptoms and suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.

"Insomnia and nightmares, which are often confused and may go hand-in-hand, are known risk factors for suicide, but just how they contribute was unknown," said Dr. W. Vaughn McCall, lead author and chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at Georgia Regents University.

The study, appearing in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, involved using psychometric testing to objectively assess the mental state of 50 depressed patients ages 20-80 being treated as an inpatient, outpatient or in the Emergency Department. More than half had attempted suicide and most were taking an anti-depressant. Testing enabled the researchers to filter out other suicide risks such as depression itself and hone in on the relationship between insomnia and suicide risk, asking specific questions about dysfunctional beliefs about sleep such as: Do you think you will ever sleep again?

"It was this dysfunctional thinking, all these negative thoughts about sleep that was the mediating factor that explained why insomnia was linked to suicide,” said McCall, who specializes in depression and sleep disorders.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine considers sleep disorders an illness that has reached epidemic proportions. Board-certified sleep medicine physicians in an AASM-accredited sleep center provide effective treatment.  AASM encourages patients to talk to their doctors about sleep problems or visit for a searchable directory of sleep centers.


  1. 1 AASM 10 Aug
    Help is available for you. We urge you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. Please call today.
  2. 2 Judgement Day 05 Oct
    I have severe sleep apnea, not diagnosed professionally BUT, I am 100% sure I have sever sleep apnea. I can be in bed, supposedly sleeping, for 6 hours and wake up and 15 minutes later, not be able to keep my eyes open. When I fall asleep while I am up, it is for only seconds, yet I immediately slip in to REM sleep and start to dream. I have fallen asleep while driving, while at a stop light, while working. I drink many cups of coffee a day plus a monster energy drink and I still cannot keeps my eyes open. I am often confused, don't now what is real and what is not, can't remember if I did something I was supposed to do or if I was about to do what I was supposed to do. Due to this I cannot work, have no money, no insurance and the only way I can stop this apnea is to lose 80 pounds, that will take months and I am about to be evicted, therefore, I plan on killing myself. I cannot ask someone to take care of me for months, while I can't work, and so I just don't want to deal with this anymore