Sleep disturbances and suicidal ideation in a sample of treatment-seeking Canadian Forces members and veterans Journal Articles uri icon

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  • This study examines the association between suicidal ideation and sleep disturbances in a sample of treatment-seeking Canadian Forces members and veterans, after controlling for probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Subjects included members and veterans of Canadian Forces seeking treatment at a hospital-based Operational Stress Injury Clinic (n=404). Sleep disturbances and nightmares were measured using individual items on the PTSD Checklist - Military Version (PCL - M), while the suicidality item of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was used as a stand-alone item to assess presence or absence of suicidal ideation. Regression analyses were used to determine the respective impact of (1) insomnia and (2) nightmares on suicidal ideation, while controlling for presence of probable PTSD, MDD, GAD, and AUD. We found that 86.9% of patients reported having problems falling or staying asleep and 67.9% of patients reported being bothered by nightmares related to military-specific traumatic events. Neither sleep disturbances nor nightmares significantly predicted suicidal ideation; instead, probable MDD emerged as the most significant predictor. The clinical implications of these findings and their potential impact on treatment guidelines are discussed.


  • Richardson, Donald
  • Don Richardson, J
  • Cyr, Kate St
  • Nelson, Charles
  • Elhai, Jon D
  • Sareen, Jitender

publication date

  • August 2014