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Sleep and depression

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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:31 pm
Sleep and depression appear to be linked in a number of peculiar ways. In some cases, depression can cause a sleep disorder, while in others a sleep disorder may lead to depression. Many depressed people develop insomnia, or the inability to sleep, but others sleep undisturbed for excessively long periods. Sleep deprivation, when combined with certain antidepressant medications, may help severely depressed patients feel better for longer periods of time than other treatments. Researchers have known for several years that sleep deprivation can cause short-term improvement in the moods of the seriously depressed, but in past experiments, relapses occurred as soon as the patients slept again. However, people treated with a combination of sleep deprivation and antidepressant drugs appear to retain the benefits of the therapy. Researchers believe that sleep behavior, dreaming, and hormonal cycles may be disorganized in people suffering from depression, and that establishing normal rhythms may be the key to a cure. However, the connection between sleep and depression is still not fully understood. For more information, consult a health care provider in your area.

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