COULD this be the answer to treating depression?
Sleep deprivation has been found to rapidly reduce the symptoms of more than half of people with the chronic mental illness, new research suggests.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found partial sleep deprivation and total sleep deprivation was effective.
And medication did not appear to influence the results.
Partial sleep deprivation allows for three to four hours sleep before being forced to stay away for 20 to 21 hours while total sleep deprivation means being kept awake for 36 hours.
Although total sleep deprivation or partial sleep deprivation can produce clinical improvement in depression symptoms within 24 hours, antidepressants are the most common treatment for depression.
Medication, such as SSRIs, can take weeks before patients start to feel results.
Previous studies have up to 60 per cent of patients experience a rapid decline in their depression symptoms when treated with sleep deprivation – but these statistics have not been reexamined since the 1990s.
Lead author Philip Gehrman, an associate professor of psychiatry, said: “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.
“Our analysis precisely reports how effective sleep deprivation is and in which populations it should be administered.”
Philip and his team reviewed more than 2,000 studies from a 36 year period.
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“These studies in our analysis show that sleep deprivation is effective for many populations,” he added.
“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 findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
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