A Cochrane review of published research has determined that there is not enough evidence to support the current clinical practice of prescribing antidepressants for insomnia.
The review re-examined 23 previous randomised controlled trials involving a total of 2,806 patients with insomnia, published in a selection of electronically available databases up to 2015.
Analysis showed that, overall, evidence supporting the use of antidepressants for people with sleep problems is of low quality, partly due to the small number of people in individual studies and partly due to how the studies were undertaken and reported.
Some low-quality evidence was found for short-term (weeks, rather than months) use of some antidepressants but, interestingly, no evidence was found for amitriptyline, despite its common use.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher, Associate Professor Hazel Everitt said: “High-quality trials of antidepressants for insomnia are needed to provide better evidence in this area to inform clinical practice. Additionally, health professionals and patients should be made aware of the current lack of evidence for antidepressant medications commonly used for insomnia management.”