A 15-year longitudinal study shows that symptoms of childhood insomnia that persist into adulthood are powerful determinants of mood and anxiety disorders in young adults.
The results show that symptoms of insomnia persisting from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood were associated with a 2.8-fold higher risk of internalizing disorders. The symptoms of insomnia that developed recently during the study were associated with a 1.9 times higher risk of internalizing disorders. No increased risk of internalizing disorders was found for children in whom symptoms of insomnia regressed during the study period.
“We have found that about 40% of children do not get past their symptoms of insomnia during the transition into adolescence and are at risk of developing mental health issues later in early adulthood,” said L lead author Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, holder of a doctorate in psychobiology. and is an associate professor at Penn State College of Medicine. He is a board certified psychologist in behavioral sleep medicine at the Penn State Health Sleep Research and Treatment Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The data was analyzed from the Penn State Child Cohort, a sample of 700 children with a median age of 9 years. The researchers followed up 8 years later with 421 participants when they were adolescents (median age 16) and now 15 years later with 492 of them when they were young adults (median age 24). Symptoms of insomnia were defined as moderate to severe difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep.
Symptoms were reported by parents in childhood and self-reported in adolescence and early adulthood. The presence of internalizing disorders was defined as a self-report of a diagnosis or treatment for mood and / or anxiety disorders. Results were adjusted for gender, race / ethnicity, age, and any history of internalizing disorders or drug use for mental health issues.
According to the authors, the symptoms of childhood insomnia have been shown to be associated with internalizing disorders, which include depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. “These new findings further indicate that early sleep interventions are warranted to prevent future mental health problems, because children whose symptoms of insomnia improved over time were not at increased risk of. have a mood or anxiety disorder as a young adult, ”Fernandez-Mendoza said.
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