Insomnia is a significant public health concern that has prompted substantial efforts to develop treatment and management strategies. A significant proportion of complaints of insomnia are related to psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorders and depression, and treatments for these disorders are known to exert both direct and indirect benefits on sleep as well as some negative effects on sleep and sleep physiology. Insomnia is also a prominent symptom of a number of other psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The observed impact of a variety of psychiatric medications on insomnia has prompted an empirically derived practice of treating non-psychiatric disorder-related insomnia with psychiatric medications by clinicians searching for alternatives to established medication treatments for primary insomnia. This article aims to review the evidence of the impact of psychiatric medications on sleep physiology, sleep disorders in psychiatric conditions, and on primary sleep disorders. The potential for exploiting the relevant pharmacological mechanisms of action in drug development for primary insomnia will be addressed as well.
Keywords: Insomnia, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, psychiatry, drug development
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