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Neurol Clin. 2005 Nov;23(4):1149-63.

Pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments of insomnia.

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  • 1Sleep Medicine Associates of Texas, Dallas, TX, USA.


Insomnia in its chronic form is present in high numbers of patients presenting to physicians. As older women who have medical problems have the highest rates of chronic insomnia, physicians must have a high index of suspicion and be prepared to explore various etiologic factors that might be operative. Treatment should focus on setting specific goals, with patients using strategies that combine lifestyle changes, behavioral interventions, and appropriate medications. OTC agents, sedating antidepressants at low dosages (trazodone, doxepin, amitriptyline, and others), and nonhypnotic benzodiazepines are insufficiently studied to provide evidence-based support for their use to treat chronic insomnia. Particularly in the elderly, close monitoring is needed to prevent falls, accidents, and cognitive impairment from these agents. FDA-labeled hypnotic agents are efficacious, but long-term studies have not been available until the recent release of eszopiclone in the United States. Recent work encourages the use of CBT even in patients who have used sleeping pills for several years, although the success of CBT has been less encouraging when applied to chronic insomnia sufferers who have concurrent psychiatric disorders and who have taken hypnotics for years.

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