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Sleep problems in anxious and depressive older adults

Authors Leblanc M, Desjardins S, Desgagné A

Received 9 January 2015

Accepted for publication 18 March 2015

Published 11 June 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 161—169


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Marie-France Leblanc,1 Sophie Desjardins,1 Alain Desgagné2

1Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, 2Department of Mathematics, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada

Purpose: The objective of this study was to identify the sleep problems most often encountered by the elderly according to the presence or absence of anxiety and mood disorders. The aim was also to determine whether groups of anxious, depressive, and asymptomatic individuals differ in relation to sleep onset latency; awakenings at night or early in the morning; subjective quality of sleep; taking of sleep medication; and daytime sleepiness.
Methods: Structured interviews based on the DSM-IV-TR were administered to a sample of 2,759 seniors aged 65 years and older at the participants’ home by health professionals.
Results: Awakening was found to be the most common disturbance. Increased sleep onset latency was the second most frequent sleep difficulty. Taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep was associated with the likelihood of meeting the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder, and even reduced the risk of meeting the diagnostic criteria for a mood disorder rather than an anxiety disorder. Awakenings were associated with the probability of suffering from an anxiety disorder or a mood disorder. Quality of sleep, as perceived by the elderly, was not found to be associated with the probability of suffering from a mental disorder.
Conclusion: These findings should help to facilitate the practitioner’s diagnosis and add further nuances to be considered when encountering symptoms of an anxious or depressive appearance. All of these data also add fuel to the ongoing debate about whether anxiety and depression are one or two distinct categories of disorders.

Keywords: anxiety, awakenings, daytime sleepiness, depression, elderly, quality of sleep, sleep medication, sleep onset latency

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