Study Finds Treatment of Insomnia with Controlled-Release Zolpidem Reduces Suicidal Thoughts in Adults

Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, October 8th, 2019
A study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry found a possible treatment for patients suffering severe insomnia with suicidal thoughts.

In the study, 103 participants (64 women and 39 men) were randomly assigned to receive zolpidem-CR hypnotic therapy or the placebo, in conjunction with an open-label selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. The participants were medication-free with major depressive disorder, insomnia, and suicidal ideation between the ages of 18 to 65 years old.1

The participants each kept a daily sleep diary during their treatment experience to note the severity of their insomnia each night. The frequency and intensity of distorted thoughts and disturbing nightmares were also measured by a wrist device that tracked their rest and activity cycles.2

Participants who took the sleep aid showed significant, long-term improvement in their insomnia, with a greater reduction in suicidal thoughts as the most prevalent result. The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) indicated that zolpidem-CR had a significant treatment effect. There was a larger reduction in suicidal thoughts in patients who experienced more severe insomnia. No deaths or suicides were attempted during the duration of the study.1,2

The study concludes that the co-prescription of a hypnotic while using an anti-depressant may be beneficial for patients with suicidal thoughts, especially in patients with insomnia.1

  1. McCall WV, Benca RM, Rosenquist PB, et al. Reducing suicidal ideation through insomnia treatment (REST-IT): a randomized clinical trial. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 2019. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19030267.
  2. Sleeping pills reduce suicidal thoughts in patients with severe insomnia. EurekAlert! Website. Published September 30, 2019. Accessed September 30, 2019.

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