Sleep Deprivation Could Help Those Suffering From Depression, Works In As Little As 24 Hours

Could not sleeping actually help those who suffer from depression feel better? According to a recent study released from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the answer is yes. Reviewing information that has been conducted over the last 36 years and compiling the data has shown a strong correlation between a lack of sleep and relieved depression symptoms.

Pulling information from 66 studies revealed that in up to half the groups examined, there was a marked improvement in depression when sleep was prohibited. It was shown that keeping patients from sleep for 12 to 20 hours and up to 36 hours all revealed antidepressant side effects in as little as 24 hours. Many medications can take a few weeks to impact patients. Having such strong progress made after a short amount of time could be a great encouragement for the 16.1 million people suffering from this painful disease.

Research conducted by a team at Tufts University pinpointed that a buildup of adenosine is what causes the mood enhancements when sleep is prohibited. Administering a medication that triggers adenosine receptors in mice showed a marked improvement in mood and behavior in just 12 hours. The mice were able to still sleep normally, but enjoyed positive recovery for up to 48 hours.

insomnia keeps guy awake
Man lost in thought while staring out the window. [Image by jeffbergen/iStock]

Discovering a quick and powerful way to promote recovery would be life-altering for many of the population who suffer from mood disorders. The senior author of the study, Philip Gehrman, PhD, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry and member of the Penn Sleep Center, points out that there is a need for more information on this 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.”

However, based on the vast amount of research done on the topic and the decades of work that has gone into the study, there is a strong link between sleep deprivation and the alleviation of symptoms of depression. Lead author Elaine Boland, PhD, who is a clinical associate and research psychologist at the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, reports that despite the type of depression, there was still noted advancement.

“These studies in our analysis show that sleep deprivation is effective for many populations. 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.”

More research is expected to be conducted on how the alterations in mood can be harnessed and made available to patients suffering from this disease. An important part of future study will be to identify those most likely to experience the benefits from this type of therapy.

Those suffering from depression in the meantime can speak to their doctor to find the best medications available for their symptoms. Some who prefer an alternate form of betterment can experience the feel-good hormones released by exercising and making dietary changes.

[Featured Image by milos-kreckovic/iStock]