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Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 1994 Dec;62(12):458-78.

[Depression and sleep--the status of current research].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Psychiatrische Klinik, Universit├Ąt Freiburg.


Abnormalities of REM sleep, i.e. shortening of REM latency, lengthening of the duration of the first REM period and heightening of REM density, which are frequently observed in patients with a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), have attracted considerable interest. Initial hopes that these aberrant patterns of sleep constitute specific markers for the primary/endogenous subtype of depression have not been fulfilled. The specificity of REM sleep disinhibition for depression in comparison to other psychopathological groups is also challenged. Demographic variables like age and sex exert strong influences on sleep physiology and must be controlled when searching for specific markers of depressed sleep. It is still an open question whether abnormalities of sleep are state-markers or trait-markers of depression. Beyond baseline studies, the cholinergic REM induction test (CRIT) indicated a heightened responsitivity of the REM sleep system to cholinergic challenge in depression compared with healthy controls and other psychopathological groups, with the exception of schizophrenia. A special role for REM sleep in depression is supported by the well known REM sleep suppressing effect of most antidepressants. The antidepressant effect of selective REM deprivation by awakenings stresses the importance of mechanisms involved in REM sleep regulation for the understanding of the pathophysiology of depressive disorders. The positive effect of total sleep deprivation on depressive mood which can be reversed by daytime naps, furthermore emphasizes relationships between sleep and depression. Experimental evidence as described above instigated several theories like the REM deprivation hypothesis, the 2-process model and the reciprocal interaction model of nonREM-REM sleep regulation to explain the deviant sleep pattern of depression. The different models will be discussed with reference to empirical data gathered in the field.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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