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Psychiatr J Univ Ott. 1990 Jun;15(2):93-9.

Investigations of morning and laboratory dream recall and content in depressive patients during baseline conditions and under antidepressive treatment with trimipramine.

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Psychiatric Clinic of the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, FRG.


REM sleep abnormalities like shortened REM (rapid eye movement) latency, prolongation of the first REM period and heightening of REM density often found in patients with a major depression have prompted an increasing number of studies investigating the neurobiology and neurophysiology of REM sleep in depressive patients, as well as in healthy humans and animals. On the other hand, since the early 1970s investigation of the psychological concomitant of REM sleep, i.e., dreaming, in depressive patients has been extremely sparse. The present study aimed at investigating morning and laboratory dream recall and content in patients with a major depressive disorder to shed more light on this neglected area. In short, morning as well as laboratory dream recall in depressive inpatients was drastically reduced. The low number of scorable dream reports collected did not reveal a heightened incidence of "masochistic" or "negative" content, indeed were rather mundane. In contrast, depressive outpatients (probably less depressed) had a higher rate of morning dream recall. Interestingly, antidepressive treatment with trimipramine (an antidepressant which does not suppress REM sleep) led to a positive influence on patients' mood that was paralleled by a change of dream mood in a positive direction.

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