Study to evaluate treating both insomnia, depression

Getting a good night's sleep may help improve your outlook on life, but it's easier said than done if you suffer from both insomnia and depression.

In a first-of-its-kind study, a medical school researcher is exploring innovative ways to tackle the problem of these two disorders coexisting. Rachel Manber, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is seeking volunteers for a study of the benefits of combining two treatments: psychotherapy for insomnia and medication for depression.

"Between 60 and 84 percent of patients with major depression are troubled by difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep," said Manber. "Insomnia adversely affects the course of standard antidepressant therapy. Studies have repeatedly shown that poor sleep is associated with slower and lower rates of remission from depression."

For the study, Manber wishes to enroll 58 participants who suffer from insomnia and depression, are between the ages of 18 and 75, are generally in good health and are not currently receiving treatment for either of the two disorders.

During the study, which remains open to volunteers until 2007, the qualified participants will receive free evaluations of their sleep, including an at-home, all-night sleep study. Participants will also receive 12 weeks of an FDA-approved antidepressant medication for depression (escitalopram oxalate, or Lexapro) and will be randomized to receive seven sessions of one of two forms of sleep-focused psychotherapies to treat insomnia.

Interested men and women should contact study coordinator Melanie San Pedro at msanpedro@stanford.edu or call 724-9774 for a free telephone screening.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.