Study Shows Treating Insomnia with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Prevent Major Depression in Older Adults

New research from UCLA Health has found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT-I) can help prevent depression by over 50% in older adults with insomnia. The study compared CBT-I with sleep education that is commonly prescribed.

The study published in JAMA Psychiatry could help to effectively treat insomnia and prevent major depression disorder (MDD) in older adults. It is estimated that more than 10% of seniors will experience a major depression later in life at any given year.


This late-life depression can increase the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure, cognitive decline, and, particularly in men, suicide. Unfortunately, despite its prevalence in seniors, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

A Recommended Treatment

Currently, CBT-I is a recommended first-line treatment for people with insomnia. This type of therapy centers around working with a therapist to help identify and change thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors in those who suffer from lack of sleep.

Prior studies showed that CBT-1 could treat insomnia and depressive symptoms, but it was not known whether targeting insomnia would prevent depression in older adults. For this study, researchers looked at 291 adults who were 60 years and older with insomnia but had not experienced any depression for 12 months or longer.

Over 36 months of follow-up, participants completed monthly questionnaires which asked about symptoms of depression from insomnia. All participants were also diagnostically interviewed every six months to determine whether an episode of clinical depression had occurred.

The study found that depression occurred in 25.9% of the seniors in the group without cognitive behavioral therapy, and only in 12.2% of the group that received the treatment. These findings suggest that treatment with CBT-I can significantly help prevent major depressive disorder in older adults with insomnia.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.