Psychiatrist Questions Insomnia

Can insomnia be psychological?

My 10 year old daughter says she is unable to sleep at night. Could it be a psychological problem or an underlying disease?

13 Answers

It very likely is psychological, especially worry or anxiety, depression. Could be hyperthyroidism.
You are right, it could be either. Often, though, people think they cannot sleep when they really are. We don't actually know why this is. I would check on her at night and see if you can tell if she is sleeping, in other words, in her dark room, go up as close as you can, listen for her breathing and see if she notices you. If she doesn't, she is prob. asleep. If she says, "Why are you in here?" you know she is indeed awake. Take her to a primary care doctor and get labs drawn. Insomnia is a very common human problem. Stress, schoolwork, peer pressure, family problems, so many things can contribute to insomnia in both youths & adults. If primary care cannot find anything physically wrong, after tests and physical exam, take her to a child & adolescent psychiatrist. You must find a specialist. Psychiatry is broken into several sub-specialties, child & adolescent is one of them. Adult & adolescent starts at age 13, so she needs a child-trained psychiatrist. This involves 1 extra year of training. Regular psychiatry training is 4 years, after one finishes med school. It is good you care, she tells you what is going on & you are looking into answers.
Of course! That usually is the reason at times. One can go see a therapist just for a diagnosis
Insomnia in a child can be related to so many things, ranging from nutrition to anxiety and social challenges. Please start with a thorough medical examination and updated bloodwork with her pediatrician including some guidance on basic sleep hygiene.
Sleep problems like insomnia in young children are often due to underlying psychological issues such as excessive worrying or fears, nightmares, sadness associated with problems at school or at home.
Her symptom is not atypical, especially with anxious children. If there was a disease present, it would fall under the anxiety or depression spectrum. Ask her what she thinks about at night as she's not able to sleep. It was hard for her to tell you, ask her to draw it for you.
Yes, it is possible. But look for other causes first.
Yes, it can. Insomnia in children, as in adults, is often a result of anxiety, worries about the next day, or even a form of separation anxiety from her parents. However, as with any physical symptom, physical causes must be ruled out.
Always rule out medical reasons first. Then pursue a psychologist who can help your daughter deal with sleep issues. A great app for a smart phone to use to deal with sleep issues is CALM.
It could be physiological or psychological reason, however, he needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist to have more definitive diagnosis and treatment.
Once you have been able to rule out any medical issues, with someone that young, dealing with the drivers or underlying issues is very helpful and revealing. Child therapists are very good at finding ways to help with the psychological components of a sleep disorder.
Insomnia can occur for many reasons. Caffeine consumption (soda, chocolate), certain medications, disrupted sleep patterns, and many others. It can also be a symptom of some psychological problems. The best is to get an evaluation with a competent professional who can either make a diagnosis or make the necessary referrals to investigate further. 

Victor M. Santiago-Noa, MD