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[From Daily Mail]

Sleeping problems such as insomnia can leave you more prone to depression, attention deficit disorder and post traumatic stress, say scientists.

Adults with depression are five times as likely to have difficulty breathing when asleep, but it had long been assumed that poor sleep was a symptom rather than a cause of the condition.

However, U.S. doctors now believe it can predispose people to mental disorders.

‘It was just so easy to say about a patient, well, he’s depressed or schizophrenic, of course he’s not sleeping well – and never to ask whether there could be a causal relationship the other way,’ says Dr Robert Stickgold, a sleep researcher at Harvard University.

His theory is backed by a growing number of studies into the link between disrupted sleep and mental disorders.

In 2006, Paul Peppard at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied patients with sleep-disordered breathing and placed them in four categories indicating mild to severe symptoms. He found the risk of depression doubled between each stage of severity.

Meanwhile Dr Daniel Buysse, from the University of Pittsburgh, found treating depressed patients’ sleep problems with a drug such as benzodiazepine could produce a dramatic turnaround in their mood disorder.

There is also evidence to suggest impaired sleep can induce the manic episodes suffered by people with bipolar disorder.

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