Healthy Living

How Does a Psychiatrist Treat Insomnia?

How Does a Psychiatrist Treat Insomnia?

What is the First Step to Initiate When You Have Been Diagnosed with Insomnia?

The most important step to finding a solution for your insomnia is to get to the root of it. Have a conversation about it with your family and inquire as to whether your insomnia may potentially be hereditary or genetic. Consult a specialist or psychiatrist to determine if it is acute (lasting for a short span of time) or chronic (long-term).

How Does a Psychiatrist Treat Insomnia?

If you have been suffering from insomnia, you may have asked yourself this question but have yet to obtain the right answer. In this review, we are going to look at the different techniques applied by psychiatrists in the treatment of insomnia. It's important to note that different specialists can help treat insomnia, but the intensity of the illness will determine what level of expertise is required. Simple cases of insomnia require the services of your family doctor or a primary care physician. These cases usually require only simple strategies and treatments for insomnia. In this case, insomnia can be treated by taking some very simple measures and ensuring uncomplicated matters such as a sound environment, regular exercise, and a strict sleep schedule. If the prescribed medications and changes recommended by the family physician fail to provide positive results, a more experienced and trained specialist may be needed. He or she should be able to deal with other underlying health conditions. Children suspected of having insomnia should be taken to a pediatrician for diagnosis and treatment. In cases where insomnia involves a disorder of the nervous system, a neurologist would more qualified to treat the disorder.

A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive issues stemming from mental disorders. Most often, psychiatrists will work hand-in-hand with psychologists to treat particular cases of insomnia. A psychologist has in-depth knowledge of behavioral and psychological processes. This knowledge can prove to be an effective tool in finding the best solution for curing even the most severe cases of insomnia. Together, both psychiatrist and psychologist can treat insomnia by either counseling or behavioral therapy. Other underlying conditions that could be responsible for causing the insomnia can also be addressed by this duo, especially by the psychiatrist. Some of the medications that may be prescribed to treat the patient’s insomnia are:

  • Sedative Antidepressants
  • Sedative-hypnotics
  • Suvorexant
  • Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Antihistamines
  • Melatonin
  • Doxepin (Silenor)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)

Sedative Antidepressants

Sedative antidepressants began to be used for treating primary cases of insomnia in the 1990s. Today, they are widely used by the majority of insomnia sufferers for the same purpose. Psychiatrists often recommend this type of medication to their patients who are diagnosed with insomnia. However, in the treatment of primary insomnia, few controlled trials have proven effective. Data on the use of sedative antidepressants to cure insomnia are limited. The majority of clinicians believe that these drugs have fewer adverse effects than non-benzodiazepines.


Sedative-hypnotic drugs are the most preferred and recommended medications used for sleep. They do not necessarily cure insomnia, but have proved useful to those who do not respond to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Non-benzodiazepine receptor agonists are the primary medications prescribed in this case. Although there are numerous drugs under this category, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. The prescription will always be written for the drug that is capable of treating your condition more effectively than the rest. 


Suvorexant, commonly known as Belsomra, received approval from the FDA in 2014 for use in the treatment of insomnia. It is ideal for treating persons who find it hard to either fall asleep or maintain sleep. For most patients, a dosage of 10 milligrams is usually recommended.


Rozerem, another name for the drug ramelteon, has FDA approval as a treatment for insomnia. It works by simulating melatonin. Ramelteon has no potential risk of abuse and is widely available in the United States. This medication is an effective treatment for those having difficulty falling asleep. It is also ideal for older patients with mobility problems who may have had substance abuse issues in the past. For maintaining sleep, however, ramelteon is ineffective. 8 milligrams is usually the recommended dosage before bedtime.     


Antihistamines constitute the major components of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs mainly prescribed for treating sleep disorders. There is no proven evidence that common antihistamines can treat sleep difficulties. Their sedative effects are felt by healthy persons, but dosage for insomnia patients has not yet been established. Their effectiveness in long-term use and safety have yet to be fully determined. It is not recommended that insomnia patients use these drugs on a regular basis.


Melatonin has been widely applied as a sleep aid and is commonly sold as an OTC drug. It is a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and controls the cycles in which you are awake and when you sleep. The concentration of melatonin in the blood is at its maximum at the usual sleeping time and minimizes when waking. When melatonin is taken during the usual waking time, hypnotic properties are observed. Research on and the study of melatonin in the treatment of insomnia is at their initial stages. Comprehensive data on its potential have not yet been achieved. 

Doxepin (Silenor)

Doxepin is the generic form of the brand-name drug Silenor. The drug is a prescription-based medication that is generally used for treating anxiety and depression. It belongs to a group of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants, which increase the brain's levels of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that relay messages in the brain. Doxepin is also used for insomnia. It is a medication that is safe for elderly people to consume, although there may be an increased risk of confusion or drowsiness.

Eszopiclone (Lunesta)

Eszopiclone is a drug that is used for treating insomnia in adults. Manufactured in tablet form, eszopiclone is available as a brand-name drug called Lunesta. There generic form of the drug is also available. The common side effects of this drug include a dry mouth, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, and common cold symptoms. In some cases, eszopiclone can cause serious side effects that may include abnormal thoughts, behaviors, performing activities unconsciously while sleeping and having no recollections of it, memory loss, and severe allergic reactions.

Zaleplon (Sonata)

Zaleplon is a pyrazolopyrimidine anesthetic drug that is used to cure short-term (2 to 4 weeks) insomnia. Zaleplon, also referred to as Sonata, proved to significantly reduce sleep latency in non-elderly and elderly patients with insomnia. Zaleplon must always be used with caution and only when prescribed by a doctor or specialist. It has serious side effects including dizziness, drowsiness, and problems with vision.