Effect of insomnia treatments on depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Depress Anxiety. 2018 Aug;35(8):717-731. doi: 10.1002/da.22776. Epub 2018 May 21.


Background: Insomnia is frequently co-morbid with depression, with a bidirectional relationship between these disorders. There is evidence that insomnia-specific interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, may lead to improvements in depression. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to determine whether treatment of insomnia leads to improved depression outcomes in individuals with both insomnia and depression.

Methods: We conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to explore the effect of treatment for insomnia disorder on depression in patients with both disorders.

Results: Three thousand eight hundred and fifteen studies were reviewed, and 23 studies met inclusion criteria. Although all of the studies suggested a positive clinical effect of insomnia treatment on depression outcomes, most of the results were not statistically significant. Although the interventions and populations were highly variable, the meta-analysis indicates moderate to large effect size (ES) improvement in depression as measured with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (ES = -1.29, 95%CI [-2.11, -0.47]) and Beck Depression Inventory (ES = -0.68, 95%CI [-1.29, -0.06]).

Conclusions: These results support that treating insomnia in patients with depression has a positive effect on mood. Future trials are needed to identify the subtypes of patients whose depression improves during treatment with insomnia-specific interventions, and to identify the mechanisms by which treating insomnia improves mood.

Keywords: cognitive therapy; comorbidity; depressive disorder; major; remission induction; sleep initiation and maintenance disorders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*