Approximately 5 to 6% of adolescents develop depression, and remission rates for treatment are low. Studies have shown that about 3/4 of depressed adolescents have insomnia. Insomnia is known to produce poor outcomes in depressed adults, but studies have not been done on insomnia's effect on depressed adolescents.
Research was presented at the 24th Congress of the European College of Neurospsychopharmacology about adolescents with depression and insomnia. For the study, data was examined from the Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study. In that study, 439 adolescents (age 12 to 17 years old) were randomized to 12 weeks of treatment with Prozac, psychotherapy, Prozac plus psychotherapy, or placebo.
The results showed that 64% of the participants had insomnia and that those with insomnia had more severe depression at the beginning of the study. Depressed adolescents with insomnia were more likely to report suicidal thoughts and their depressive episodes were more prolonged.
At 6 weeks of treatment, those with insomnia responded less than those without insomnia, but at 12 weeks, the response rate did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. The study authors concluded that insomnia could slow adolescents' response to depression treatment, and that adding insomnia treatments early in the course of depression treatment could speed up recovery.