Can Treating Insomnia Ease Depression Symptoms For Menopausal Women?

By Beth Leipholtz 01/23/19

Researchers explored possible treatment options for depression and insomnia in menopausal women.

menopausal woman with depression

Depression symptoms in women going through menopause may decrease when insomnia is treated, new research has found.

According to Reuters, researchers enlisted 117 women going through menopause who also had insomnia. Most women, according to Reuters, experience menopause anywhere between age 45 and 55. Menopause occurs when the hormones estrogen and progesterone stop being produced by the ovaries. One of the main symptoms for women is insomnia.

The women were split into three groups randomly. One group received cognitive behavioral therapy, the second group received a type of CBT called sleep restriction therapy, and the third was given information about habits to make sleeping and falling asleep easier (also referred to as sleep hygiene education).

Of the women in the study, 4.3% had been diagnosed with moderately severe depression. Researchers found that both types of therapy helped to alleviate depression symptoms, while the sleep hygiene education did not have the same results.

“We can add targeted cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia to the current arsenal of treatments available to alleviate menopausal associated insomnia and with this treatment we have the added benefit of reductions in depressive symptoms which frequently co-occur with sleep disturbance associated with menopause,” senior study author Christopher Drake of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, told Reuters via email. “We hope to one day show that targeting insomnia symptoms early when depression is mild or yet to develop can prevent depression from ever developing in the first place.”

When it comes to insomnia, CBT helps people learn techniques that address the mental aspects of insomnia, like overcoming negative emotions, anxiety and a racing mind.

Previous research has found that CBT can help those with insomnia to create better bedtime routines and improve their sleep patterns.

When it comes to sleep restriction therapy, it can be done solo or in addition to CBT. The goal of this type of therapy is to limit how many times a person wakes during the night and to decrease the total amount of time they spend in bed but not the total amount of time they spend asleep.

In this particular study, women receiving CBT went through six face-to-face therapy sessions with a medical professional in the behavioral sleep medicine field. Those undergoing sleep restriction therapy had two face-to-face sessions and three phone sessions. The remaining group undergoing sleep hygiene education received six emails per week, each with tips for better sleep routines and information on sleep and its connection to health and lifestyle. 

Researchers do note that this study has some limitations, such as the fact that women with major depression were not included in the study. The study also did not take into account hot flashes, which are a common symptom of menopause that could interfere with sleep.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.