Researchers to Help Depressed Patients Get Much-Needed Sleep

February 2, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are looking at ways to help depressed people sleep easier. Psychiatric researchers will be studying over 75 patients diagnosed with depression over the next two years to determine if adding a sleeping pill to an antidepressant during their treatment will help them return to their everyday routines quicker.

“Most people who respond well to antidepressants report that insomnia is the one symptom of their depression that is least likely to improve during the treatment process,” said Vaughn McCall, M.D., a psychiatrist at Wake Forest Baptist and principal investigator of the study.

“Most people who suffer from depression don’t sleep well,” McCall said. “We are trying to determine if you add a sleeping pill to the treatment plan, do you gain anything?”

Treating insomnia is important for people who suffer from depression, he said. “Insomnia patients have a poorer quality of life and are more likely to relapse into depression.”

Patients who are selected for the study will participate for 10 weeks and will complete a sleep study in the medical center’s accredited sleep lab at the beginning of the treatment program and at the end. Patients will be asked to wear an actigraph, which is like a pedometer, on their wrist to track their sleep and wake patterns daily. All patients will take an antidepressant during the study, and half of those will also take a sleeping pill.

Depression can affect one in five adults during their lifetime. About 1 percent to 3 percent of the adult population suffers from depression at any given time. And over 80 percent of depressed people will have sleep problems associated with their condition.

The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

For more information about the study, call Niki Boggs at 336-716-5113.

Media Contact: Rae Bush (336) 716-6878,; or Karen Richardson (336) 716-4453,

About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,187 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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