Sleep Problems and GAD odd depression

Sleep Problems & GAD, ODD and Depression

Dr Shelley Hyman

Sleep problems are a common occurrence in children and adolescents, with various issues such as restlessness being frequently reported. Whilst all types of children may experience these problems, particularly interesting are those of children who have common psychiatric disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Recent research by Shanahan (2014) tested whether problems with sleep preceded, followed or co-occurred with these common psychiatric disorders found in childhood or adolescence. They used a representative sample of 1420 children who were each assessed 4 to 7 times between the age of 9 and 16, and used the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (Fourth Edition) in order to determine the occurrence of both sleep problems and other disorders.

They found that sleep problems co-existed with many disorders, and that the most common issues with sleeping were restless sleeping and trouble falling asleep. Additionally, across time they found that problems with sleeping could predict increases in the prevalence of GAD as well as high depression symptoms and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) later in time. Similarly, the occurrence of GAD, depression or ODD was able to predict increases in sleep problems over time.

Therefore it is evident that sleep problems are not only predicted by, but predict a variety of disorders such as GAD, ODD and depression. This could have many real-world implications as detecting sleep problems could lead to earlier intervention in the development of mental illnesses and the reduction of this burden during the early life course.


Emma Waite


  • Shanahan, L., Copeland, W. E., Angold, A., Bondy, C. L., & Costello, E. J. (2014). Sleep Problems Predict and Are Predicted by Generalized Anxiety/Depression and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry53(5), 550-558.
Dr Shelley Hyman

About Dr Shelley Hyman

Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist. BSc (psychol) Hons, MClinNeuropsych, PhD (Med) MAPS CCN. Founder and director of the centre that was founded in 2006.