A new meta-analysis of more than 60 studies on the antidepressant effect of Lack Of Sleep revealed that controlled sleep deprivation can rapidly decrease Symptoms Of Depression in almost half of depression patients.

The meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showed that depression patients who underwent total or partial sleep deprivation experienced clinical improvement in their symptoms within 24 hours. In partial sleep deprivation, patients were allowed to sleep for three to four hours followed by forced wakefulness for 20 to 21 hours. On the other hand, total sleep deprivation requires staying awake for 36 hours.

First meta-analysis on the antidepressant effect of sleep deprivation in nearly 30 years

Sleep deprivation’s antidepressant effect was first discovered more than 30 years ago. However, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania noted that there were no concrete ideas on how effective sleep deprivation is as an antidepressant. Nothing was known about the best way to administer the treatment to achieve the best clinical results.

For their analysis, researchers reviewed more than 2,000 studies on the topic. From those, they pulled a final group of 66 studies conducted over a 36-year period. These studies observed that the rapid antidepressant effect of lack of sleep was present in roughly 40 to 60 percent of the participants.

Sleep deprivation as antidepressant effective for many populations

Interestingly, depriving depression patients of their sleep provided positive outcome regardless of age, gender, and kind of depression they have.

The type and timing of the sleep deprivation treatment, as well as the patients’ medication status, did not have any significant influence in the result.

At present, the most common treatment for depression is antidepressants. However, these drugs typically take weeks or longer to take effect. Due to this, the rapid antidepressant effect of forced wakefulness appears to be a more promising alternative treatment for patients suffering from depression.

Depression considered a serious medical illness and an important public health issue

Depression, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a medical illness characterized by persistent sadness and irritability. Considered to be one of the leading causes of disease and injury in the world, depression is associated with an increased risk of mortality from suicide and heart disease.

In the United States, about 16.1 million adults experienced a major depressive episode in 2014. People who experience one episode of the illness are 50 percent more likely to have another attack. Depression can be treated with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. If not treated properly, it could become a chronic disease.