Monday, December 18

Insomnia to Treat Depression?

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Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, or problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide.Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present.

Somehow, lack of sleep has a beneficial effect on depression. This non-intuitive phenomenon is well documented by more than 75 studies published since 40 years! If this treatment against depression is not so popular, it is partly because the prolonged insomnia may also have significant adverse effects on the cognitive level, and secondly, because the improvement in mood produced by insomnia disappears when one inevitably gets to sleep.

Nevertheless, the effect is so robust, quickly established and hopeful that several studies are ongoing about it. Some appear to indicate that the activity of a particular brain structure, the anterior cingulate cortex, which is higher than normal for people with depression, calms down after insomnia.

Others are concerned by tricyclic antidepressants side effect of disrupting REM sleep. One wonders if insomnia not produce its effect in the same way, if the duration of this particular sleep cycle is reduced. Genetic indicators are confirming this: the risk of depression are greater in families with the rare genetic peculiarity of having many more REM sleep than normal.

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