February 03, 2015
3 min read

CBT reduces suicidal ideation among veterans treated for insomnia

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Veterans who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia also exhibited reduced suicidal ideation, according to data published in Sleep.                                                                                                                     

“It was striking to see that the reduction in insomnia severity was associated with reduced suicidal ideation even after controlling for improvement in depression severity,” researcher Bradley Karlin, PhD, ABPP, Chief of Mental Health and Aging at the Education Development Center, Inc. in New York, said in a press release. “The results suggest that effective treatment of insomnia with [cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia] is an important target for reducing suicide risk among veterans and others at risk for suicide.”

Bradley Karlin

Bradley Karlin

Karlin and colleagues collected longitudinal data of 405 veterans (mean age, 52 years) who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) in outpatient and residential treatment institutions.

At baseline, 32% of patients (n = 128) reported suicidal ideation compared with 21% of patients (n = 86) at the conclusion of the study (P < .001), representing a 33% reduction of suicidal ideation during CBT-I, according to data.

The researchers also reported a 68% decreased odds of suicidal ideation, associated with each 10-point decrease in modified Beck Depression Inventory-II scores from baseline to the final assessment (P < .001). Additional data show a 142% increased odds for suicidal ideation, associated with each 10-point increase (P < .001), researchers wrote.

These findings suggest that CBT-I may potentially benefit a larger number of veterans, the researchers concluded. – by Samantha Costa

Disclosure: This study was supported by Mental Health Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office. Karlin reports affiliations with the Education Development Center, Inc., and the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.