New study finds sleep loss surprisingly lifts mood in some depressed individuals

Originally published at: New study finds sleep loss surprisingly lifts mood in some depressed individuals | Boing Boing


What if I’m already depressed and chronically sleep deprived?


I think I have to look at that study more closely to find out why this is news, and to whom.

But right now, I need to put my device down and go the fuck to sleep.


Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight! Go and see him. That should pick you up!


Can confirm, I’m tired and happy.

As someone who’s dealt with bouts of depression my first thought was that loss of sleep just presents a change of routine, and distracts you from your normal darkness. But. . .

I had a work-study job in college where I had to pull all-nighters once a week for a semester, manning a desk at the campus center. Being awake for 32 hours straight definitely alters your mood but not necessarily in a good way, more like a weird way. I’m sure there’s something biochemical going there, a slight modification of the standard brain/blood recipe. The mental and physical exhaustion was like a dopey high, it was hard to care about stuff in that space.


I definitely read about this 30+ years ago. My hazy recollection is that (in healthy brains) serotonin builds up and makes you sleepy, and in some depressed brains there’s a lack of serotonin, so, keep 'em awake until they’ve built up enough.


… I can never tell whether “explanations” like that are real or if they’re like a kind of biochemical phrenology :confused:


I’m glad to see a study on depression. We really don’t understand it and until we do most treatments will not be as effective as they should be.
But this study makes me wonder about what happened to the 53% of depressed individuals when they were sleep deprived? I didn’t see anything about them in the linked materials. My guess is their depressive symptoms worsened. Anecdotal evidence is not very reliable, but every person I have ever known who has depression and every mental health professional I have known who has treated my own depression has emphasized that sleep is very important to equilibrium and mood. From my own perspective, I guard my sleep hours very fiercely because they do have a profound effect on my depression. Too much sleep is bad and too little sleep is bad.


I wonder if it’s as simple as breaking the patterns we humans tend to fall into. A mentally happy, healthy person has a pattern which is good for them. A depressive has a pattern which is not. So the pattern disruption has opposite effects.


Then there is no hope for you. You overdosed on the sleep deprivation.


Actually we’ve known about profound sleep deprivation and it’s effect on depression for a long, long time! Elderly psychiatrists remember it being used in wards. And then as a society we sorta forgot it because it wasn’t useful. The problem is that the depression returns rapidly on resumption of sleep.

What’s interesting isn’t that the study shows improvement of depression with sleep deprivation, but rather that it considers the mechanism.


I haven’t been formally diagnosed with depression, but I’ve definitely experienced this. A sort of light cheerfulness akin to being mildly high when I’m sleep deprived but have struggled through the getting up, dressed and walking around phase.


I’m hoping, @danimagoo, that you don’t take FTTL’s response literally. Let’s us take care of each other here.

An alternative, if the cycle-breaking hypothesis posited above has merit, that perhaps a little more or a little less deprivation might be the trick.


I’ve read about this before, maybe five or ten years ago. Lack of sleep lessens the symptoms of depression. It’s probably a clue, and at some point in the future we’ll regard it as obvious. It reminds me of the link between starvation and the lessening of diabetes symptoms as noted during the brutal 1870 siege of Paris. People were dying of hunger, but diabetics were feeling better. We can explain this now. Diabetes is about too much sugar in the blood, but the linkage with starvation in 1870 isn’t what got us insulin.

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I took their comment as a joke. They probably assumed I was at least partly joking, but I really wasn’t. Anyway, thanks for the concern. My depression is fairly mild and manageable at the moment. It’s annoying more than anything.


Good for you. I had a similar initial reaction as FTTL - in my case a black humour place that may be indicative of my own always there grey space. A friend called me on it so I have been resisting sardonic quippage ever since. And to FTTL’s credit, they acknowledged my “hold on here”. Now, I love black humour, but we have to be careful. All the best!

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I’m not sleeping right now!

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