September 28, 2017

Sleep Deprivation Is an Effective Antidepressant for Nearly Half of Patients With Depression

PHILADELPHIA -- September 28, 2017 -- Sleep deprivation rapidly reduces symptoms of depression in roughly half of patients, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (JCP).

Partial sleep deprivation (sleep for 3-4 hours followed by forced wakefulness for 20-21 hours) was equally as effective as total sleep deprivation (being deprived of sleep for 36 hours), and medication did not appear to significantly influence these results.

Previous studies have shown rapid antidepressant effects from sleep deprivation for roughly 40% to 60% of individuals, yet this response rate has not been analysed to obtain a more precise percentage since 1990 despite more than 75 studies since then on the subject.

“More than 30 years since the discovery of the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation, we still do not have an effective grasp on precisely how effective the treatment is and how to achieve the best clinical results,” said senior author Philip Gehrman, PhD, Penn Sleep Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Our analysis precisely reports how effective sleep deprivation is and in which populations it should be administered.”

Reviewing more than 2,000 studies, the team pulled data from a final group of 66 studies executed over a 36-year period to determine how response may be affected by the type and timing of sleep deprivation performed (total vs early or late partial sleep deprivation), the clinical sample (having depressive or manic episodes, or a combination of both), medication status, and age and gender of the sample. They also explored how response to sleep deprivation may differ across studies according to how “response” is defined in each study.

“These studies in our analysis show that sleep deprivation is effective for many populations,” said lead author Elaine Boland, PhD, University of Pennsylvania. “Regardless of how the response was quantified, how the sleep deprivation was delivered, or the type of depression the subject was experiencing, we found a nearly equivalent response rate.”

The authors noted that further research is needed to identify precisely how sleep deprivation causes rapid and significant reductions in depression severity. Also, future studies are needed to include a more comprehensive assessment of potential predictors of treatment outcome to identify those patients most likely to benefit from sleep deprivation.

Reference: http://dx.doi.org/10.4088/JCP.16r11332

SOURCE: Penn Medicine
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