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Sleep and Health Often Disrupted in Depressed Elders

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and tai chi may benefit older, depressed patients

MONDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with a history of depression are more likely to show impairments in sleep quality and health functioning, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Sarosh J. Motivala, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues studied 410 adults aged 60 and over, including 200 controls with no history of mental illness, 143 with a history of a previous major or minor depressive disorder and 67 with a history of an active depressive disorder.

The researchers found that more than 45 percent of the study participants with a history of depression showed clinical sleep impairments. They also found that those with a history of depression had lower scores on six of the eight Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey scales, including role-physical, general health perceptions, vitality, social functioning, role-emotional and mental health.

"Treatment efforts that target sleep quality may be found to be efficacious in improving health functioning in older adults with a history of depression," the authors conclude. "It is known, for example, that interventions for insomnia such as cognitive-behavioral therapy yield robust improvements of sleep outcomes and daytime functioning in older adults. Similarly, novel interventions such as tai chi, which have been found to improve sleep quality in older adults, also improve their health functioning."

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