How does Talkiatry treat insomnia?
The first step to treating insomnia is getting a diagnosis from a qualified mental healthcare professional, like a psychiatrist. While it can be easy to dismiss your symptoms, it’s important to remember that insomnia is a treatable medical condition. Help is available and many options exist to help you sleep better.
Secondary insomnia, such as insomnia caused by an anxiety disorder, is often resolved by treating the root cause. Primary insomnia requires its own treatment plan and is often managed with a combination of medication and therapy.
Your psychiatrist will ask you questions and may recommend additional testing to determine if your insomnia is primary or secondary. For example, they’ll ask about your sleep habits, as well as how long your insomnia has lasted. It may be helpful to keep a sleep diary for a few weeks before your visit. Writing down when you go to sleep, wake up, take naps during the day, exercise, and drink caffeine or alcohol can help your psychiatrist determine the nature of your sleep problems.
With Talkiatry, you can see a psychiatrist from the comfort of home and you can schedule your first appointment in a matter of days.
Here’s what to expect in your first visit:
Evaluation: During your first visit with a Talkiatry psychiatrist, you’ll get to meet each other and answer questions about your current symptoms, personal history, medical history, and mental health goals.
Diagnosis: Based on the information you’ve shared, your psychiatrist will be able to provide a diagnosis of your condition, if you have one. Getting a diagnosis can feel scary, but it can also feel validating to finally put a name to what you've been experiencing. Your psychiatrist will help you navigate any emotions that come up and work with you on a path to move forward.
Treatment plan: You’ll collaborate with your psychiatrist on the best way to manage your symptoms. If medication is appropriate, you’ll discuss your options, including the benefits and potential side effects of each medication. Your psychiatrist will provide supportive therapy throughout your session, and may also recommend working with one of our therapists. Our therapists partner with our psychiatrists to provide collaborative care.
To get started, take our free online assessment
, to see if Talkiatry is right for you and get matched with a psychiatrist.
There are a range of prescription sleep aids available to treat insomnia. These drugs target different neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain that control different body functions.
- Benzodiazepines, like lorazepam or temazepam, help calm and slow activity in the brain by enhancing the effects of the a naturally occurring chemical in your brain called GABA. These medications belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepine receptor agonists which are generally recommended for short-term use.
- “Z drugs,” like zaleplon, zolpidem, and eszopiclone, have a different chemical structure than benzodiazepines, but work similarly to enhance the effects of GABA. They tend to be quicker-acting and not last as long in the body as benzodiazepines.
- DORAS (dual orexin receptor antagonists) aid in falling asleep by blocking the effects of a wakefulness-promoting chemical called orexin.
- Melatonin receptor agonists enhance the effects of melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical that regulates your sleep-wake cycle (i.e it tells your body when it’s time to rest and wake).
- Sometimes, sedating antidepressants or antiseizure medications can also be prescribed to treat insomnia, especially if you have other conditions like depression or restless leg syndrome.
Not all of these medications are appropriate for everyone with insomnia. That’s why it's important to work closely with a qualified healthcare professional, like a psychiatrist, who can monitor your response to a given medication and make changes to your treatment plan as needed.
Lifestyle changes and therapy
Your psychiatrist may additionally recommend supportive therapy (also called “talk therapy") to treat your depression. If your psychiatrist thinks this could be effective for you, we have therapists on staff to work with patients who are seeing our psychiatrists. Talk therapy may help you challenge destructive thought patterns and develop healthy coping skills to manage your depression symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
: If your insomnia is rooted in another mental health condition or stressful situation, your psychiatrist may also recommend talk therapy to help manage your insomnia. Typically offered by a therapist, this treatment may include CBT, a type of targeted therapy that's considered a first-line treatment for insomnia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (or CBT-i) aims to help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake. Stimulus control therapy is a CBT technique that helps you remove inputs that condition your mind to stay awake. For example, you may be coached to avoid naps, use the bed only for sleep, or impose other sleep restrictions that can paradoxically improve your sleep. Relaxation techniques may also be a part of your CBT-i treatment, which can help you decompress and ready your body for sleep.Back to top