Insomnia: pathophysiology and implications for treatment

Author(s): Roth T, Roehrs T, Pies R

Abstract

Interest in developing a greater understanding of the pathophysiogical mechanisms underlying primary insomnia has increased. Recent evidence indicates that there may be some neuroendocrine and clinical similarities between primary insomnia and major depressive disorder, that abnormal corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) activity occurs in major depression, and that CRF hyperactivity appears to mediate the hyperarousal seen in primary insomnia. These findings all point to the possibility of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and CRF overactivity in both disorders. More recent findings have strengthened the evidence that primary insomnia may be linked with mood disorders and is associated with HPA axis overactivity and excess secretion of CRF, adrenocorticotropin releasing hormone, and cortisol. These insights have implications for managing chronic primary insomnia, such as use of antiglucocorticoid agents.

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