Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 511–518 | Cite as

Is Chronic Insomnia a Precursor to Major Depression? Epidemiological and Biological Findings

  • Chiara Baglioni
  • Dieter Riemann
Sleep Disorders (MJ Sateia, Section Editor)


Insomnia has been found to be a clinical predictor of subsequent depression. Nevertheless the biological processes underlying this causal relationship are yet not fully understood. Both conditions share a common imbalance of the arousal system. Patients with insomnia present fragmented REM sleep, which probably interferes with basal processes of emotion regulation. The interaction between the arousal and the affective system with the persistence of the disorder could slowly alter also the cognitive system and lead to depression. Although preliminary results seem to support this hypothesis, data are still too few to make valid conclusions.


Sleep disorders Insomnia Depression Predictor Suicide Hyperarousal Emotions REM instability Cognitive performance Cognitive-behavior treatment Transdiagnostic hypothesis Psychiatry 



No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of Freiburg Medical CenterFreiburgGermany

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