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Insomnia and Anxiety May Be Genetically Linked

Study of twins finds those with depression have trouble sleeping

MONDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- A genetic link between anxiety, depression and insomnia has been identified by U.S. researchers, who said adolescents who suffer from anxiety and depression should also be screened for insomnia.

The researchers' analysis of data from 749 monozygotic twin pairs and 687 dizygotic twin pairs, aged 8 to 17, and their parents revealed that 19.5 percent of the children had insomnia.

The results indicate that, as has been seen in previous studies of insomnia in adults, diagnosable insomnia in children aged 8 to 16 years is moderately likely to be inherited, according to a news release about the study. The shared genetic effects between insomnia, depression and anxiety suggest that these disorders are linked.

Lead author Philip Gehrman, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and colleagues said they expected to find sleep-specific genetic effects, and were surprised they didn't.

"Monozygotic twins did not have higher rates of insomnia. However, if one monozygotic twin had insomnia, their twin was more likely to have insomnia than if they were dizygotic twins," the researchers wrote.

The findings were to be presented Monday at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting, in Seattle.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about insomnia.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 8, 2009

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