Sleeping Pills and Depression

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Insomnia and depression share a bidirectional relationship, where sleep issues can serve as both a symptom and a risk factor for depression. Insomnia encompasses difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up at the intended time, leading to insufficient sleep for optimal functioning. Meanwhile, depression spans from experiencing a few depressive symptoms to a more severe state of major depressive disorder, sometimes referred to as clinical depression.

This guide explores the interconnected nature of these two conditions, showing how they can coalesce. Additionally, it outlines potential treatment options for individuals grappling with addiction to sleeping pills and depression.

Can Sleeping Pills Cause Depression?

Do sleeping pills cause depression, then? There is no direct evidence suggesting that sleeping pills cause depression. However, some people may experience side effects from certain sleeping pills that could potentially affect their mood. If you have concerns about the impact of sleeping pills on your mental health, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your medical history and individual circumstances.

A man appears troubled as he wonders if sleeping pills can cause depression

Do All Sleeping Pills Cause Depression?

Not all sleeping pills directly cause depression, but the relationship between sleep medications and mental health is complex. Different types of sleeping pills may have varying effects on mood, and individual responses can differ:

  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines, including medications like Xanax and Valium, are known for their sedative effects. Prolonged use or misuse may contribute to depression, as these drugs can impact neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (Z-drugs): Z-drugs like Ambien and Lunesta belong to this class of drugs. While they are generally considered safer than benzodiazepines, prolonged use or abrupt discontinuation may lead to side effects, including changes in mood.
  • Melatonin receptor agonists: Medications like Rozerem target melatonin receptors. While considered a safer option, individual responses to the medication may vary.

Genetic predispositions can influence how individuals respond to sleeping pills. Some people may be more susceptible to mood changes or depressive symptoms.

Individuals with a history of depression or mental health disorders may be more vulnerable to mood-related side effects from certain sleeping pills.

Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any sleep medication. They can assess individual health conditions, medication history, and potential risk factors for depression.

Healthcare providers can closely monitor for side effects, including changes in mood, during the use of sleep medications. If depressive symptoms emerge, it might be necessary to adjust the treatment plan.

Alternatives to Sleeping Pills for Sleep Problems

Improving sleep and addressing depression may involve the following treatments:

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to enhance self-reported sleep quality, reduce insomnia severity, and decrease daytime sleepiness, according to a 2021 meta-analysis. Beyond this, a 2016 review of 22 studies found exercise to be effective in treating depression, especially when combined with medication.
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy): CBT is a short-term therapy that serves as the first-line treatment for insomnia and is often used for depression as well. Led by a mental health professional, CBT helps people identify and change thoughts and behaviors associated with insomnia or depression. It may include other techniques such as sleep hygiene and relaxation practices.
  • Mind-body practices: Practices like yoga, tai chi, qigong, and meditation, as suggested by a 2019 systematic review, can improve symptoms of insomnia and contribute to overall health. Another review of studies concluded that yoga may be beneficial in reducing depression, although more research is needed due to the limited size and duration of existing studies.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback are recommended to address insomnia. A 2020 meta-analysis found that regular practice of relaxation techniques is safe and may reduce depression symptoms.

Can Depression Cause Lack of Sleep?

Depression is often associated with disruptions in sleep patterns, and one common manifestation is insomnia. The relationship between depression and sleep is complex, creating a two-way link where sleep problems can be both a symptom of and a risk factor for depression.

  • Insomnia as a symptom: Individuals experiencing depression may struggle with various sleep-related issues, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. These sleep disturbances are considered symptoms of depression.
  • Risk factor for depression: Chronic sleep deprivation or persistent insomnia, by contrast, can increase the risk of developing depression. Sleep problems can negatively impact mood, energy levels, cognitive function, and overall mental health.


Can sleeping pills cause depression?

Some prescription sleeping pills have been associated with an increased risk of depression. Certain medications may affect neurotransmitters in the brain, potentially contributing to mood changes. Consult with a healthcare professional to discuss any concerns about the relationship between sleeping pills and depression.

Can over the counter sleeping pills cause depression?

While some over-the-counter sleeping pills may lead to short-term drowsiness or grogginess, there isn’t as much evidence directly linking them to depression. However, individual responses vary, and excessive or prolonged use of any sleep aid, including over-the-counter options, should be approached with caution, and discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure overall mental health is considered.

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Get Treatment for Depression and Sleeping Pill Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you have issues with sleep, depression, or addiction, we can help you recalibrate your life at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH.

We offer a variety of outpatient programs, providing you with the most affordable and flexible pathway to improved well-being and restored functioning. Engage with therapy sessions during the day and remain anchored to your everyday obligations.

All treatment programs offer an individualized blend of behavioral therapies, holistic interventions, and pharmacological treatments, enabling you to set a firm foundation for ongoing recovery. Call 877-679-2132 and get immediate help tackling issues with mental health or addiction.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn