Insomnia Patients Denied Sleep Treatment If They Have Mental Health Conditions

Thursday, February 7th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Patients with insomnia who are diagnosed with accompanying mental health ailments often are not prescribed medication that will help them sleep — which could then make related anxiety or depression worse, new research suggests. Senior study author Rajesh Balkrishnan, the Merrell Dow professor of pharmacy at Ohio State University, and colleagues, collected data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which tracks Americans’ annual outpatient medical visits. The researchers identified 5,487 physician visits by patients with insomnia between 1995 and 2004, which was calculated to represent about 161 million U.S. patients over that 10-year period.

  • Thirty-eight percent of patients with insomnia were diagnosed with at least one other condition, and at least four of every 10 of those accompanying conditions related to mental health. The most common additional condition was anxiety (15.6 percent), followed by episodic mood disorders (14.9 percent), high blood pressure (10.1 percent), depression (7 percent) and diabetes (3.5 percent).
  • Patients visiting psychiatrists had two times higher odds of receiving medication for insomnia than patients visiting family practice or internal medicine physicians. The study showed that 33 percent of patients with insomnia saw family practice or internal medicine physicians, 30 percent visited psychiatrists and 9 percent went to neurologists.

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