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Depression & sleep
Posted: April 20, 2011
Last Updated: April 20, 2011

Major depression is one of the largest mental health problems in Southern New Mexico, according to Marsha Bowman, division manager and counselor at Border Area Mental Health Services. Depression is also one of the most serious medical illnesses affecting 5 percent of Americans in any given year, approximately 9.9 million people. One of the main symptoms of those suffering depression is difficulties sleeping—either too much or too little. This symptom can have a major impact on the mental illness, “Depression can put a person in bed and they can’t get out of it,” says Bowman.


Worse, sleep patterns can negatively impact depression. “Depression makes all that rest you think you are getting ineffective,” says Bowman. As a counselor in southern New Mexico, she says the greatest complication with seen with depression is psychotic features due to lack of sleep. “People won’t be able to sleep due to the insomnia connected to the depression. After a few days without sleep, the brain can produce delusions--voices, sounds, images—that can cause great concern in the depressed person.” The delusions caused by sleep deprivations usually disappear once the person is back on a normal sleeping pattern, but the depression can still cause havoc later if left untreated.


“The most important thing about depression is to get treatment and access to medications, so it doesn’t worsen,” says Bowman. She stresses that depression is very difficult to pinpoint in others, but the person experiencing it knows there is something wrong, “Depression is a disorder people have and others don’t know about.”


Bowman says the warning signs of depression include:

·         Persistently sadness or irritability

·         Sleeping too much or too little

·         Pronounced changes in appetite

·         Weight gain or loss

·         Inability to concentrate

·         Sudden bouts of crying

·         Unexplained agitation

·         Lack of interest in or pleasure from activities that were once enjoyed

·         Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness

·         Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

·         Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

When several of these symptoms occur at the same time and last longer than two weeks, Bowman says you should seek treatment. Also of any of these symptoms interfere with ordinary daily life, like work and family, the person should seek treatment. “The important thing with depression is to get treatment immediately before it gets worse,” reminds Bowman, “even if you think it is just a few months of sleepless nights that can be a warning sign that something is wrong.”

To learn more about depression call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.