Adolescents diagnosed with insomnia have a high prevalence of concurrent mental health disorders and should be screened for them, according to new research.

For a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Tori R. Van Dyk, PhD, of Loma Linda (Calif.) University, and colleagues, enrolled 376 adolescents aged 11-18 years (mean age 14.5, 55% female) diagnosed with primary insomnia and referred to a sleep clinic. Subjects were evaluated using two validated questionnaires used to measure sleep disorders in adolescents, while caregivers reported and mental health diagnoses and symptoms using a standard behavioral checklist for adolescents.

Dr. Van Dyk and colleagues found that 75% of subjects had at least one or more parent-reported mental health diagnosis, most commonly anxiety, mood disorders, and ADHD. Some 64% had a clinical elevation of mental health symptoms on evaluation, most commonly affective disorders, with 40% of the cohort having two or more elevations. Specific mental health symptoms were seen linked with particular sleep symptoms. A greater burden of ADHD symptoms, for example, was significantly associated with more difficulties falling asleep, maintaining sleep, and reinitiating sleep after waking at night.

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