CBT Effective for Insomnia in Patients With Psychiatric & Medical Conditions


In a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, titled “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia with Psychiatric, Medical Conditions“, a team of researchers from the Rush University Medical Center, Chicago led by Jason C. Ong, Ph.D. demonstrate that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is beneficial for patients with insomnia who suffer from comorbid psychiatric and medical disorders, including fibromyalgia.

Results from previous meta-analyses have indicated that cognitive behavioural therapy for the treatment of insomnia is able to improve sleep. However, some of these meta-analyses did not include patients with comorbid psychiatric and medical diseases.

The team of researchers conducted a review of the current evidence regarding the efficacy of CBT for insomnia in patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders (such as depression, alcohol dependence and post-traumatic stress disorder), and/or medical diseases (such as cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic pain). As such, the team included a total of 37 studies involving a population of 2,189 participants in the final analysis.

The authors found that CBT was effective in reducing symptoms of insomnia and sleep disturbances in those patients with comorbid disorders. Following evaluation of CBT the results showed that nearly twice the percentage of patients receiving CBT had insomnia remission in comparison to the patients in the control group.

CBT was associated with positive clinical outcomes in comorbid conditions, with the results showing that patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders had a higher rate of clinical improvements than patients with medical diseases.

Based on these results, the authors suggest that sleep disturbances might be more associated with cognitive emotional symptoms than physical symptoms. Thus, the reduction of sleep disturbances may have a more positive effect in psychiatric disorders. “These findings provide empirical support for the recommendation of using CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) as the treatment of choice for comorbid insomnia disorders,” the authors concluded in their study.

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