March 1980

Partial Sleep Deprivation as Therapy for Depression

Author Affiliations

From the Klinik für Psychiatrie, Abteilung der Psychiatrischen und Nervenklinik der Universität, Muenster, West Germany.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(3):267-271. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780160037003

• We investigated the influence of partial sleep deprivation on depressive symptoms in 30 patients with endogenous depression. The patients were awakened during the second half of the night and remained awake until the following evening. Antidepressant pharmacotherapy was not interrupted. Partial sleep deprivation significantly reduced the depression symptoms (mean value, 30.1%). The interindividual variations were considerable; deterioration was rare, and in 75% of the cases improvement occurred. Execution is simple, less stressful for the patient than total sleep deprivation, and can be carried out at home. Partial sleep deprivation has no contraindications except in the case of severe physical illness. The duration of the therapeutic effect is varied; repetition is possible. We discuss chronobiological hypothesis to explain the effect of sleep deprivation.