If being sleep deprived wasn't bad enough, a new study suggests that teenagers who suffer from insomnia, anxiety and depression may be susceptible to alcohol and drug addiction or abuse in their adolescent years.

Previous research has shown that a correlation exists between insomnia, anxiety and depression. However, the current study of high school students entitled "The independent relationships between insomnia, depression, subtypes of anxiety, and chronotype during adolescence" and is conducted by psychology researchers of the University of Adelaide. The study gives newer insights into the correlation between mental disorders that arise due to insomnia in teens and how they can be detrimental for the healthy evolvement of a teen.

"There is a growing awareness among the scientific community that insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders are linked with each other, and these disorders contain overlapping neurobiological, psychological, and social risk factors," says School of Psychology PhD student Pasquale Alvaro. "Having insomnia in addition to anxiety or depression can further intensify the problems being experienced with each individual disorder."

Alvaro surveyed over 300 high school students from South Australia who were aged 12 years to 18 years. This was done in a bid to gain insights into their mental condition, sleep patterns, as well as their "chronotype" or the time of the day when the individual tended to be more active.

On the basis of these reports, Alvaro arrived at the conclusion that insomnia in teens had an independent link with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and depression.

Per the study, teenagers who were more active during the evening or "eveningness chronotype" would potentially be more prone to depression and/or insomnia as chances of them delaying sleep would be higher. Moreover, these individuals were also likely to suffer from social phobias, separation anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, the disorders were not found to be tied independently to insomnia.

Alvaro is of the belief that along with current approaches, efforts to prevent and treat insomnia and depression should take into account the combination of factors like sleep, mental health and eveningness chronotype, which influence the individual's behavior.

"Prevention and treatment efforts for anxiety subtypes should also consider focusing on insomnia and depression," adds Alvaro.

The results of the study have been published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

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