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The antidepressant effect of sleep deprivation (mosaicscience.com)
441 points by onuralp 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments

How very odd for me to find this on HN this evening. I'm on "day 2" of my once a week sleep fast, which means things are a bit surreal to begin with.

For each of the last seven weeks, I stay awake from Thursday morning until my "regular" bedtime hour Friday evening.

I do this because it actually seems to be an effective way to avoid falling into a hole of anhedonia and "stuck-ness." I am hip to many of the cognitive tricks of depression, and can deal, kind of--I am utterly unable to deal with the physical listlessness and absence of drive that comes with it.

Skipping sleep on a set schedule seems to work for me. At first I didn't think I could keep it up, and I was concerned by potential safety hazards. My concerns are justified, as I am pretty loopy by Friday afternoon, or around the 32 hour mark.

Of all the esoteric treatments for my mood, this is perhaps the only real success except for Yoga (BKS-style Ashtanga).

I have a feeling I might receive some benefit from ascetic practices in general; and will experiment with caloric restriction, e.g. in future months.

I have no idea if I should expect the effects of this practice to remain pronounced, and my experience seems to differ somewhat from that described in the article.

I sure hope I continue to benefit, because I don't respond well to any of the usual methodologies. Also, I don't feel comfortable enough in the onions to do a proper Ketamine trial.

// I don't mean to sound breezy. I only include that last note to emphasize how unendurable my world was becoming.

If this makes sense to you, I feel for you. One foot in front of the other...

The downside: I am totally sober, but I know my executive function is not working very well, and I may very well regret commenting.

edit: some glaring issues with words

I had major depression for a couple of years and here's how I eventually got out of it: 1) regular exercise. Start small, you're not supposed to break records. But it's very important to do it regularly. You can start with one exercise, like cycling or pushups, and then in later weeks or months add more once you feel you got the hang of it. Also, I think aerobic exercises on fresh air like cycling, jogging or even going for a walk work best. 2) Go for a walk pretty often. Just to see a changing landscape and not the same 4 walls all the time. 3) Friends. Meet them with some regularity. If you don't have, meet people over a hobby and you will eventually make some friends. Friendly faces are nice. 4) Music - especially new and nice - works VERY well for me, but then again I'm sensitive to music and some arts. 5) Herbal pills for depression - hypericum. Supposedly as good as many synthetic meds, but much fewer side effects. Note you want either pills, alcohol or oil extract. The substance that deals with depression and stress (hypericine?) is not water solluble. So common teas don't work. Watch out for photosensitivity (you might get burns or other skin problems from being exposed to sun). 6) Vitamin D, at least 2000IU a day.

Try these things. It really helps, especially once you're used to some exercise. Now I still have anxiety and low stress resistance, but I can act and get stuff accomplished. Also, people say getting a cat or dog is a big help too (I haven't tried it).

Anhedonia - lack of ability to feel pleasure - in my case comes largely from the habit of suppressing emotions. I'm working on it.

Also, I practice meditation (for stress, memory and concentration), 1-2x a day for 15 minutes. I'm not sure how much it helps, but I'll take every help I can get NOT to fall into this black pit again.

For the Vitamin D in particular, there's recentish news that suggests most people in general may be somewhat Vitamin D-deficient and that the recommended daily dose should be sharply raised.

I will add a point if enec-data. I live in Seattle, and have sun avoidance tendencies. I take 2000iu if D3 daily in pill form. I find that my depressive type moods tend to be highly correlated to when I've forgotten to take my D3 for days or weeks at a time. Usually its because I've run out and forget to pick some up. I don't notice for a while, then a week or two later I realize I've been sinking into a funky mood and make a priority to pick more up. Usually I perk back up after a day ir two.

The caveat being it's hard to tell if I'm already coming out of a funk and that's why I can run errands again like going to the store, or if just doing things 'to take care of myself' are triggering the upswing. But I still try not to run out of D3 especially in the winter.

Also know that you can overdose on vitamin D, so it's best to take in the morning rather than night. The body naturally stops production as you reach certain levels so you're not likely to get too much, even if you spend all day in the sun.

Wow! I awoke early this morning from a bit of a bender last night and have a similar feeling of mania (the positive, productive kind). At first I attributed it to a GABA rebound, but thinking back, a sleep fast has historically injected a sense of urgency and vigour.

I have been fasting intermittently after reading Valter Longo's metabolic oxidation research (the term they used for aging research to get it published). I skip breakfast and try to leave 16-18 hours between meals. Have been losing weight but keeping muscle tone almost effortlessly. My skin has also improved. No negative effect so far.

Good interview about I.F.: https://youtu.be/d6PyyatqJSE

Wow, I haven't thought about that GABA rebound in ages. I quit drinking a long time ago, although I had to do it a few times. This is just another data point, but I too remember "increased vigor/urgency" from acute sleep deprivation prior to drinking habitually.

I have maintained up to a year on the same food schedule as you describe, and it was nice in a lot of ways. I don't know if I'll ever be quite that lean again, but that's okay.

While IF seems to do a lot for many, including me, it also seemed to exacerbate my anxiety. I stopped for that reason, along with the unrelenting societal pressure to eat, I mean.

I live in the United States, and IMO we are just really tragically confused about food even as we drown in it.

I skip meals often (it isn't like they're mandatory, right?), but haven't done any "formal" fasting in some time. Thank you for the input and the link.

I am curious when anxiety happened in your case? For me if I fast for few days the second night (like 28-30 hours without food) is sleepless due to anxiety.

Well, I haven't intentionally tried to do fasting beyond the 18-20 hour mark during chronic IF. The afternoons could be tough on the second day for me. Actually it forced me to find a nice meditation spot where I could spend my lunch calming down and attending to my focus. I was probably a much better co-worker on sunny days. Oh, I should mention that it would have been really easy to just work through lunch given I had higher energy and focus levels. Eventually though, a walk or something active mid-day became essential if I didn't want to end my days in robo-mode.

Evenings were always easier for me on the tail end of the IF routine; I sometimes enjoy cooking; I had an excuse to plenty of whatever sounded good, and when you have a four hour window to eat, food tastes so much better its shocking.

I'm also skipping breakfast. Trying to keep at least 16 hours between dinner and lunch. Started nearly a year ago. Generally I feel better, and intend to continue, but:

* Somehow I didn't lose much weight. I wasn't particularly overweight to begin with though. Maybe lost 1-2kg over this period(?)

* My blood tests showed increase in cholesterol. I was reading about it and it seems common (or not very uncommon). It's still not too bad, but higher than before.

Actually, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say or ask :) but mostly curious if there's something I'm doing wrong I suppose.

You should be careful doing that too regularly. Once a week is the maximum I’ve understood would be healthy for typical first world lifestyles.

It will otherwise coax your body into starvation response. This is true even with low calorie diets.

You can cause you’re body to retain store energy and retain fat rather than in a constant state of burning what you take in.

If you’re looking to lose weight you’re better off just limiting carbohydrates on non workout days. Eat a lot of vegetables and protein, take a multi, and do cardio and high intensity interval training 3-5 times a week.

If you want to build strength and lose weight then mix in resistance training into the routine as well.

As a baseline that schedule will help with anxiety, depression, and get your metabolism on track.

For most people, that is. I’ve been on antidepressants before as well as some anxiolytics. Excercise, vitamins, and eating healthy most of the time does a world of difference. Another benefit is you don’t have to limit you’re calories as harshly. Energy levels go up as well— to the point where sitting at a desk all day is too much idling!

Btw, I eat between 2 and 6 eggs a day (between breakfast and lunch), use butter/olive oil/sesame oil in cooking regularly, and my cholesterol has never been high following that general scheme. No hacks or tricks.


> Once a week is the maximum I’ve understood would be healthy for typical first world lifestyles.

As far as I understand, the 16-hour fasting (skipping breakfast) is something you keep doing rather than once a week. Unlike a 24/48+ hour fasting some people do once in a while... Maybe I missed some crucial piece of information?

Yes, that calorie reduction to that degree increases the chance (body type-dependant) that your’ll induce starvation prevention reactions in your body. An at rest adult human typically requires 2000 calorie sharing a day to maintain weight. That’s if you never left your bed. Regularly reducing that further will cause your body to store more energy which results in fat gain. And not always the good kind.

The simple way for me to put it is move your body and fuel it regularly for the best results. You don’t have to fast 16 hours a day, and I d wager you’d meet better results without doing so.

If you don’t want to move your body then that’s a whole other world of questions. But if you’re generally healthy and capable, you should.

The IF literature I’ve read indicates that calorie reduction isn’t really a goal, though it often happens to some degree. But I’m generally not taking in 2/3rd of prior calories just because I’m eating 2/3rd of the meals - more like 3/4 or 4/5.

This is all new to me so curious where you’re getting this info from so I can read up.

No problem. I really brought up calories, etc due to the other posters mentioning limited weight loss (or sometimes gain) as well as increased cholesterol even though they were reducing the frequency of meals (I was guessing at a reduction in calories because of that, though it’s fair to say that I don’t really have that insight in this case)

The info I’m conveying is part coaching, part experience/anecdotal, and part reading aggregate from health studies, running and sports health magazines, as well as general health magazines.

My parents were national-level athletes (70’s/80’s) and, later on, coaches. My mother was certified to coach in the Olympics (though she did not and continued her work locally). I was an athlete when I was younger and learned most of it then, but have in recent years taken a return to focusing more on my health. Also much of my reading stemmed from trying to lose weight after quitting smoking (also went from a physical job to a physically-idle one around the same time. Gained nearly 50 pounds. I was on antidepressants and anxiolytics at the same time. It was messy)

My girlfriend’s step mother is competing at the world championship Iron Man race this fall in Kona, and her advice was much the same (we plug everyone we can for coaching. Her stepmom even has her on a custom workout).

I don’t have much hard reading I can provide off hand, but a few searches surrounding the points I put out there should yield quite a bit of information. Primarily links between excercise and how it helps with depression and anxiety, and metabolic studies including starvation responses.

If you want to continue the discussion further I’d be happy to, and happy to help find further info that might resound more than some hexadecimal-aliased rambler on a message board. ;)

I have had similar outcomes. I started the Intermediate Fasting in order to try to lower my cholesterol, but mine actually went up as well. Weight went down initially, but then stabalized at my normal, pre IF, weight.

Depending on the food people can gain weight with IF. My impression is that with IF it is easier to follow diets to reduce weight, IF alone is somewhat orthogonal to weight management.

I’ve irregular sleep patterns. Often sleep four hours or less, with a sleep binge every now and then.

As long as I go to sleep when I feel tired and I can get past the post dinner stump I’m exceptionally energeting the afternoon and the whole evening, but a bit groggy in the morning.

Fair trade since evening is time for me and family while morning is mostly work.

The effect on metabolism/hunger seems crazy tho. When I get back to a regular sleep pattern I usually lose 3 to 6 kiloes just from that.

> My skin has also improved.

This could be a symptom that you're eating food that is too rich or oily. As someone who's been involved with the care of many types of mammals, if a mammal starts developing spots then it is usually because of their diet, swapping out different food can have a huge effect with regards to this.

Semi-related: I do a once per week water fast on the same schedule (no food thursday, eat friday night) and I have similar mental-reset and body-reset type benefits. Maybe there is something to be said for just breaking yourself out of your rut and pushing yourself mentally on an unusual physical metric. Might trigger some evolutionary stress response that kickstarts our hunter/gatherer instincts.

You may be correct about these benefits being general side-effects of stress/deprivation. I'm trained to be wary of sexy and intuitive ideas, but I am charmed by anything with a halfway plausible evolutionary-biological basis. Even if it's bro-science.

Fasting is scientifically studied. Google Jason Fung and Valter Lonngo.

I'm sorry, I think I was unclear; I totally agree with you that the benefits of fasting are well documented and extensively studied. In addition to conveying possible mental benefit, the fasting is an attempt on my part to feel hunger again. I recognize that probably does not come off well, but I'm never hungry. It's been years. I don't eat all the time, I just eat when I feel like it. I remember times when I was actually hungry, and while life is easier now, I think it might be useful to go find that hunger again.

100%. This was the mind blowing realization the first time I fasted for a good 24+ hours. Feeling ACTUAL hunger, and realizing that what I normally associated as hunger was either thirst or restlessness.

Or it might just be placebo.

> The downside: I am totally sober, but I know my executive function is not working very well, and I may very well regret commenting.

As someone who is chronically sleep deprived this hits me hard. I had a few days of "full wakefulness" last year, where I had a good nights sleep for a few days in a row and my head was just clear. It felt so amazing to be "all here" and notice that your brain is firing all cylinders when thinking about problems.

Since a few years ago my sleep routine stuck at 4-5 hours per night sleep. Some months ago I slept for 9 hours during 3 nights, and what a day... It was surreal as I felt to be imensably capable of thinking hard and focus.

Hey... made a HN account just to reply you. Just wanted to say that what you wrote very much so resonated with me, or probably more so, me at a point in the past.

If you ever feel like you just need to talk, please reach out. Sleep is actually always a good thing and once you get on a decent schedule there’s nothing better than a solid 8 hours.

Personally, I always feel a lot more in touch with who I know I am, whether that’s the best version of myself or not, after consistent rest. Would love for you to someday find the same.


Welcome! HN has no personal messages between users, and your email is not visible to others. If you want the parent commenter to contact you, you should leave your email either in your comment or in your profile bio.

Wow, that's really kind of you, and totally unexpected...

Thank you. I may never need to call, but it means a great deal nonetheless.

Long term sleep deprivation is bad for your health/brain. When you sleep your organism is getting rid of the toxins from your brain. There was a study some time ago that showed if you sleep less than 7 hours a day then proteins connected with Alzheimer disease accumulate in your brain.

> When you sleep your organism is getting rid of the toxins from your brain

Is this generally accepted to be true these days?

I'll leave a more rigorous answer to your question to a doctor, but there is evidence that Alzheimers disease is caused by a buildup of "plaques" (beta-amyloid, a toxic protein) in the brain tissue. This buildup is removed during R.E.M sleep in those without the disease.


I've heard claims about sleep triggering a general "cleansing" of the brain, but I'm not a neurologist, so I can't say for certain there's evidence for the general case.

Okay. I was aware of the theories, but from your earlier comment I got the impression that maybe it's now more than just a hypothesis. Either way, interesting links. Thanks!

May I suggest polyphasic sleeping? I've been doing the dymaxion schedule (30 minutes every 6 hours) and my anhedonia is pretty much gone. What's in place, however, is pure euphoria. It may be difficult for some, because the personality differences are huge, but if you cannot keep up exerting tremendous effort into living, it could be a possible change. My only worries starting, was that I was too relaxed and calm. It almost felt like nothing affected me and my sense of fear was nonexistent. Whether this is closer to nirvana or insanity, I don't know, but it's been nice. And the overthinking and hyperawareness that came with a fresh 9 hours of sleep is gone.

Sounds interesting, but it seems only those with a particular gene can properly adapt to it?

I really enjoy that surreal aspect of sleep deprivation. Everything seems to be a bit different through that lens–almost, but not quite like a fresh perspective. Not quite because it feels like you had it all along. Maybe it’s just elucidation but that doesn’t feel apt either. I don’t know your writing style generally speaking but this comment feels slightly tinged with that surreal feeling (in a positive way).

Of course the major downside is, as you mentioned, a decline in executive function. I find myself trying to filter things I say manually with mixed results. Rambling is definitely magnified.

I get more irritable when sleep deprived. Anyone else have the same thing?

I don't think purposely incurring sleep debt is for me. Maybe others handle it better.

This thread piqued my interest because I have a love/hate relationship with sleep deprivation that touches on what you mentioned:

- On the positive side of the scale, sleep deprivation can boost my creativity and ability to focus enormously, every now and then (context: as a programmer).

- On the negative side of the scale, I would be fooling myself if I pretended that this doesn't make me more irritable in the days after.

Over the years I'm slowly but surely learning how to balance these things against each other and pick suitable moments for these creative outbursts without overdoing it :-).

Yep, I have noticed this myself. I am much more likely to get into fights when sleep deprived. I have less patience with people.

Have you ever tried something like magic mushrooms to perhaps rewire your brain? To remove that everyday filter for several hours and flood your brain with totally new experiences and a new way of looking at things. I think it's worth a shot but you'd have to do it in a controlled environment with people you like and who understand you.

I have, yes. I've had several moderate-heavy psilocibin experiences, each during a major transitional period. I consider [mushrooms] excellent medicine for certain people, in certain doses, at certain stages of development (phenomenological and ontological, not developmental). That said, I cannot in good conscience encourage their use in the context of someone else's mental health, given the really quite serious possibility of things going wobbly.

I'm not a hippy or a burner, and I'm not a psychedelic enthusiast. It bothers me to read breathless articles about everyone microdosing their way to success, but--I believe I owe my continued existence at least in part to a radical and abiding shift in perspective following ingestion of unusually potent psychedelic mushrooms. I was 27 and at the time suffering from recurrent, lengthy periods of anxiety and depression severe enough to make suicide seem like the most humane and considerate action. I ate the mushrooms and, tl;dr, looked at my ridiculous "plight" with a sort of embarrassed acceptance.

That particular event was exceptionally difficult. It involved reliving trauma I'd been trying forget, feeling the shame and embarrassment of said trauma, and ultimately complete surrender and acceptance to that which is out of my control, which is to say, everything.

That "freedom in surrender/acceptance" epiphany lost some of its immediacy and weight after a while, but the message itself did not degrade with time. I don't stay in a state of acceptance and grace (ha), but I know that acceptance of self and society is available, no matter what. I am not a religious person, by the way, in case that matters.

I know what you mean by "rewire," but I don't think that term, widely used and accepted though it is, should be used to talk about something so complex and fragile as the brain/mind or however you juxtapose consciousness and experience.

I am just as guilty as anyone of using reductive machine analogies when talking about human things. Many would consider my self-experimentation risky and foolish, scary even. I agree? It's just that my life was much scarier before I started tinkering. It was certainly more risky.

Sorry for rambling. Thank you for the suggestion; I appreciate the thought and consideration. Your last sentence deserves emphasis ;)

I know what you mean by "rewire," but I don't think that term, widely used and accepted though it is, should be used to talk about something so complex and fragile as the brain/mind or however you juxtapose consciousness and experience.

The way I see it, "rewire" implies a substitute perspective, whereas what you're talking about is more about additional perspective.

Not "rewire", but open new neural pathways, and untangle others.

I had a friend with psychotic depression and it was the only thing that made him functional again. Effects would last for a week or two.

I have a childhood friend who now has schizophrenia. He is afraid of medication, so he currently just stays on cannabis all the time in a state where it’s legal.

(He has been medicated before, but his paranoia won’t let him now.)

He’s more stable, and while he does still believe his hallucinations/delusions of persecution, he is able to handle them better. I wonder how psilocybin would treat him.

I know psychosis is distinct from psychotic depression, but it seemed analogous.

Have you seen him before and after smoking up? Anecdotally (my own eyes) cannabis does not improve schizophrenia.

Interestingly, administering enough THC to a healthy adult will produce schizophrenia and psychosis type symptoms, while administering CBD to a psychotic person was found in one study to work as well as first-line antipsychotics (and with fewer side-effects).

Unfortunately almost all modern cannabis hybrids have been optimized for THC, such that the natural balance between the psychotic and antipsychotic elements has been completely lost. There are a few "CBD only" strains but they are quite rare.

It is possible to buy CBD oil however, made from non-psychoactive hemp. All things considered, CBD oil should be much more helpful to your friend than smoking, and less risky (both legally and psychologically).

> The FDA of the United States considers hemp oil (and it's derivative CBD) to be a dietary supplement (not a medication), since they are made from industrial hemp plants. If you live in the US, this means you don't need a prescription and can legally purchase and consume Cannabidiol in any state.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional but this subject is very close to my heart.

I haven't seen him in a very long time. It doesn't treat the psychosis, as I mentioned, but it seems to help the anxiety and distress that it causes.

I don't know what balance of THC/CBD he chooses to consume. I think that if he smokes enough of anything besides THC-only strains, he should get some benefit from it. I should give him a call and inquire sometime. (I live on the opposite coast.)

I know that one can buy high-CBD strains in states where it's legal, and I would hope that he does. It's also possible that tolerance for the different psychoactives changes at different rates. If that's the case, he might have developed a tolerance to the THC faster than CBD. I have no empirical evidence behind this claim, but I just know he's doing okay. Or at least more so than he had been.

Head shop near me sells CBD isolate, and hemp (CBD ONLY) strains. Good luck to your friend.

Checkout the book Rethinking Madness by Dr. Paris Williams, this book saved my life by helping me understand psychosis and schizophrenia.

Are you experimenting with this? E.g. doing a very short sleep of 20 minutes to reduce safety hazards or sleeping longer but only when it is dark and wake up before sunrise?

I've definitely noticed that this works for me on occasion - staying up all night to see the sunrise and then going about as usual seems to be a cleansing experience of sorts.

In such a state, it feels that the mind is too exhausted to lend itself to worry or anxiety. The troubles seem far less consequential through the haze.

I didn't keep track of what happens the day after catching up on sleep, but in general, being lifted even for a single day out of the quagmire is very helpful: one can make plans for the future (in a depressed state, people tend to not make any plans because they don't want anything, and what they want, they think they can't do), and one can feel contrast between their good and bad states of mind (depression tricks people into thinking that their depressed state is actually their normal state).

That said, sometimes staying up all night just meant sleeping all day -- and I don't know to which extent my experience even compares with the one of the people in the article.

Still, it's something everyone suffering from the symptoms can try for free. Beats a night of restlessness and bad sleep hands down, and there's little to lose if you experiment on a weekend.

exhaustion is often a nice way to cleanse; but I've been ill to the point of not being asleep for 5 days, and the confusion was nearing madness to the point I'd avoid feeling that way as much as possible :)

Somehow my quackery detectors go off on this one, but I'm not quite sure.

The article talks about "recent studies" without linking to them. The "references" section at the end links to a single peer-reviewed article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447205/) in a journal with an impact factor of less then one (compare https://www.researchgate.net/journal/0379-5284_Saudi_medical... for example).

If it works, why not give some citations in more reputable journals, for example?

Most articles, when searching for depression + sleep deprivation, talk about the correlation between the two, which seems to be pretty well-established. There's little on the possible treatment of depression through sleep deprivation.

I found a meta-analysis on the subject: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/28937707

"The overall response rate to sleep deprivation was 45% among studies that utilized a randomized control group and 50% among studies that did not. The response to sleep deprivation was not affected significantly by the type of sleep deprivation performed, the nature of the clinical sample, medication status, the definition of response used, or age and gender of the sample.These findings support a significant effect of sleep deprivation and suggest the need for future studies [...]"

I don't have the qualifications to assess this meta analysis; at least it's published in a more popular/reputable journal.

I felt a little bit like this last time the subject was on HN, and after similarly looking into the research further, I feel like the treatment is valid and works, but only for specific people with specific problems. It's very important that the article qualifies this as working only for severe depression and/or possibly bipolar disorder.

Treatments having the opposite effect on someone with an uncommon symptom as they do on the general population aren't unheard of. Like how some people with real ADHD are calmed by caffeine.

I attribute my disbelief about sleep deprivation to not having heard about this before and to the mountain of social narrative around good regular sleep being so critically important to your health, which also has evidence but isn't trivial to pin down specifically by reading research journals.

There are a bunch of them on PudMed, and not all are that recent. This is what I found on a quick search.




It sounds like the theory behind this is kicking the circadian rhythm to see if it improves.

> Depression is also associated with altered daily rhythms of hormone secretion and body temperature, and the more severe the illness, the greater the degree of disruption. Like the sleep signals, these rhythms are also driven by the body’s circadian system, which itself is driven by a set of interacting proteins, encoded by ‘clock genes’ that are expressed in a rhythmic pattern throughout the day.

A classic, almost cliche, way to address "common depression" is to normalize the person's sleep schedule. Many people keep erratic schedules and participate in activities (eg, playing video games) at end of day that make going to sleep hard. They get poorer quality sleep and have no consistency, which messes up the circadian rhythm and contributes to depression. Such people are advised to at least try keeping a consistent sleep schedule for a couple weeks to see if it helps them.

The technique in the article seems to be the figurative opposite, possibly because regular sleep cycles are either inadequate or infeasible to achieve. They force a short-term horrible sleep cycle to see if they can jolt the circadian rhythm into working better.

Bright light in the morning, vitamin D supplementation (5k units) seems to show promise for some.

I can attest that for me a regular sleep schedule works, but only so far.

At first it works kinda well as I feel increasingly settled as days go by, but at some point it seems being too restful kicks my mind into overdrive mode. From experience I can now detect such events, as it starts with a general feeling of everything being awesome, incredible energy, and fantastic happiness as I just am there (as with mindfulness and meditation), do many things† for a day or two, then everything inevitably crashes down†† as I start feeling increasingly but subtly anxious about minute details, followed by an increasing inability to focus and then comes listlessness. If a (even remotely) bad event happens right after the peak happiness state it can send me spiralling down even faster.

The only thing that can curb that is:

- an occasional short night (like getting 3 to 4 hours of sleep) once a week or so, after which I feel surprisingly refreshed. Sometimes it happens naturally as I wake up in the middle of the night and can't sleep, or go to bed late. But it better not last two or three days in a row or then the crashing down thing happens and it's even harder to climb up as the added sleep deficit combined with listlessness makes me very sleepy during the day. Note: I am largely unable to voluntarily control my sleep schedule.

- regular strenuous physical exercise, like daily, and for hours, and preferably outside. It seems I need to shoot my body through a satiated state of physical sensations in order to saturate my nervous system and keep my mind in check. I can skip a day or two but exercising, say, every other day doesn't check out as though the slope, while less steep, is still trending downwards. Outdoors is incredibly important to me as there are so much more physical stimuli (light, wind, sounds) and with greater variations than indoors.

- food and water. Regular hydration is capital for me, and some kind of mineral water is best. Tap water is out of question for some reason (strangely seems to upset my bowel/urinary system after a few days). A balanced diet can do wonders but it seems I can be derailed easily on that front.

I sort of picture my mood swings as f(t+phi) = mood, with f basically resembling a sine wave, and physical exertion seems to help me in adjusting phi. My general strategy to combat that is to try to hit that sweet spot where I'm right before the super-happiness point and attempt to ride the wave using exercise, caffeine and nicotine†† (sadly, using tobacco).

Honestly though I try not to put too much thought into it as I managed to turn anxiety about the situation into more like curiosity. Anyway on a larger scale the general mood trend is sensibly upwards as looked at retrospectively I'm climbing inch by inch out of that hole.

† I tried not being so hyperactive, pacing myself and not doing so many things but it doesn't change a thing to the process.

†† I found out that one of the dead giveaways of when I'm trending towards the downward slope is that I start skipping on automatically hydrating myself.

††† caffeine seems to act as a baseline offset but too much outright prevents sleep, while nicotine seems to act as a dampener, both for high and low swings of mood.

If you're using nicotine to help regulate your mood, I would definitely recommend grabbing a vape; your lungs will thank you.

On the flip side, a vape 'may' not be as effective, as it is possible its one of the other chemicals in tobacco that's helping. Tobacco is known to act as an MAOI, and MAOIs tend to be prescribed as antidepressants

Haven't read the article yet, but it sounds grim, I don't think it can be good for me.

Instead of forced sleep deprivation, try this for a week: intermittent fasting and calorie restriction, good nutrition (veggies, nuts, olive oil, eggs, etc.), no drinking (at all), going to bed early (like 10 pm), waking up early (at dawn in the summer at 4 am would be perfect), but naturally, without an alarm clock.

Doing this, you may find out that you only need 5-6 hours of sleep, especially in the summer. And moderate (outdoors) exercise - this is important.

Since a lot of you guys are in the bay area, you have a lot of sun during the year; that makes this routine a lot easier and more rewarding (sunshine increases the feeling of "high" for most people).

After doing this for a while, you might find out you're naturally high all the time, without going through crashes.

“Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression,” says Benedetti. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll feel in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities.”

> good nutrition (veggies, nuts, olive oil, eggs, etc.)

I'd highly recommend reducing carb intake; cut out your bread, sugar, starch, pasta and try to stick with meat and greens. Low carb diets (Keto, Adkins, etc.) made a huge difference for me health wise.

Ugh. Carbs are fuel. Cutting out the specifics you mentioned are good, but generally cutting out carbs is not good for most people.

Depends on the carbs. Leafy greens and other vegetables are carbs, and for the most part they're compatible with paleo style diets. It's the processed carbs like bread and sugar that should be avoided.

Carbs are one source of fuel/calories. Fats are another, and protein as well (albeit to a much lesser extent).

Yes, but if you look at studies for the vast majority of people the common denominator across diets like the GP mentioned is improved diet quality and eating less. Most people don't need to remove carbs themselves. Sure, pasta is refined grain etc, but if you are well and not overeating then there's nothing wrong with it. A (if not the) primary problem is that people tend to overeat things that contain lots of carbs and/or fats that fail to satiete.

To your point, restricting carbs in those diets is one of the keys to eating less. You mention (and rightly so) that "people tend to overeat things that contain lots of carbs and/or fats that fail to satiate": if there aren't carbs in the mix, fats (and protein) satiate more quickly (and for longer) than when accompanied by a hefty portion of carbs.

'djsumdog pointed out diets that many have found successful and meet the requirements that 'georka mentioned, moving the conversation forward constructively. If you have diets suggestions that also meet those requirements, or constructive criticism that 'georka's or 'djsumdog's points are off base and have alternatives, great!

As for "Most people don't need to remove carbs", at least in the US, while complete removal isn't necessary, I believe many could benefit from restricting their carb intake, keeping everything else constant (as long as they're getting adequate protein and vitamins/minerals). Whether that's due to shifting the macronutrient balance or just from the reduced caloric input, they should see a benefit, and likely will not feel hungry. It sounds like you agree that low carb diets can benefit people. In that case, if you have other diets you prefer, offer them up constructively (though likely elsewhere, as this is now well-off the beaten path of this thread).

> waking up early (at dawn in the summer at 4 am would be perfect), but naturally, without an alarm clock

There are alarm clocks that simulate a sun rise (over half an hour or so), which works well for me in winter. It allows to wake up slowly without the stress of a noise in the middle of the dark night.

I've been using a Philips Wake-up Light for this in the past four years and it helps me a lot in winter. It's not perfect but it's a lot better than waking up to a screaming alarm clock :-).

Recently I replaced most of the lights in my house with Philips Hue lights and I was pleased to find out that these can also be used as wake-up lights. This seems to work even better for me, possibly because the bedroom lights up more evenly (as opposed to the wake-up light right next to my bed).

> Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression

I used to "play" with my sleeping pattern a lot. I would stay up extremely late sometimes because it's impossible to go to sleep before a bug has been fixed. But being a student I could just sleep in the next day. It had that classic effect which is observed in hackers of drifting "West" and becoming completely out of phase with the Sun's cycle.

I did suffer from depression. It's always difficult to say this, though. How do I know that I really had depression and I wasn't just unhappy? I don't know. But maybe it suffices to say that I had near constant suicidal thoughts at times.

I've since turned my life around and I am no longer depressed. I attribute it to having a much more regimented life which includes regular and sufficient sleep, regular, healthy meals and regular exercise.

So the above quotation suggests that I am "healthy". Presumably as opposed to those that are "unhealthy" and really have depression. But what is the difference really? I have to do this particular thing to avoid depression, and they have to do that particular thing to avoid it? Is it just that my "cure" happens to be the same as everyone else's cure? Or am I missing something here?

For me, the big shock has always been the extent to which sleep can kill a fantastic streak of productivity. I sometimes have weeks of incredible energy, where I work 12 or even 14 hours every day, and I do my best work, and I have deep insights, and invent new products and new kinds of software. And generally, over the course of a week or two, I become more productive each day. And finally I have a day when I am on fire and I'm writing incredible code and I'm writing some of my most popular essays, the stuff that continues to be read years later. And I go to sleep thinking that tomorrow will be just as good. And I sleep 9 hours. And I wake up and I am a completely different person. My thoughts don't make sense. I'm a bit disoriented. I drink 3 cups of coffee but I still feel groggy. I have no energy. The magic is gone. I'm lucky if I get 4 hours of good work done. And the next day is terrible, and the next day is terrible, and the so on. And it is always a shock what a sudden start there is to this prolonged grogginess, and it always seems to start with one night where I sleep a bit too long.

Maybe you’re mixing up cause and effect. Maybe your “sleep” was collapsing with exhaustion when it all caught up?

That sounds right, sleep is just the beginning of recovery from burnout. I can get pretty productive for some deadlines, working nonstop, but if there is too much to do, it can become painful to work or think, and the productivity can even come to a complete halt. Only after a week or more can I do anything. So, lessons learned a few years ago, it's best to keep overworking to short bursts, and there are no miracles.

That theory would only work if sleep caused me to feel refreshed. But I don't think any of us have ever had the experience that more sleep lead to more awakeness. It's not as if we are well rested after 8 hours of sleep, and even more energized by 9 hours of sleep, and even more energized by 10 hours of sleep, and even more energized by 11 hours of sleep, etc.

I think most of us have had the experience of over-sleeping, and then being strangely groggy all day. Certainly, most of my friends have had that experience.

That may be because your sleep deficit is say 20 hours and your need 8 (6 if lucky) to break even so you need something like 10 hours a day for 10 days to catch up.

All this is to say I occasionally feel groggy but if I consistently sleep “a lot” I feel great after a few days.

yeah that sounds about right

This almost sounds like a mild manic swing followed by a crash.

Yes, if it is recurring, possibly cyclothymia.

I noticed this to that's why I scheduled Thursday and Friday off and do all my socializing and relaxation Thursday night through Sunday. Then Sunday, I would start work at night and finish around Monday around 5pm. With this schedule (working 20 hour shifts Sun-Mon, Mon-Tue, Tue-Wed, Thur) I was extremely productive.

Interesting! If I have a period of sleep deprivation followed by a night of catch-up sleep, I'm often always slow and groggy that day. It seems worse if I sleep late rather than going to bed early. I mainly fight this by having a pretty regular sleep schedule and avoiding significant sleep debt.

You can't cheat your body. Your body will take the sleep if it feels it needs it. Also, sleep deprivation stacks, so if you miss 1 hour each day you'll eventually fall asleep all of sudden.

"if you’re depressed, [sleep deprivation] can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities. But, Benedetti adds, there’s a catch: once you go to sleep and catch up on those missed hours of sleep, you’ll have a 95 per cent chance of relapse."

Sounds like there's a high risk for turning depression into insomnia. Not sure if it's an improvement.

Yep, once I caught up on my sleep the next day would be the same anxiety, depression cycle all over. Crazy to read about this today after having this exact phenomenon happen to me years ago.

My personal experience is exactly the opposite. Lack of sleep induces depression. This is also supported by many studies. I recommend this read http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/conseque...

In the article it says:

“Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression,” says Benedetti. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll feel in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities.”

Sounds like the theory relies on distraction to provoke attention away from depression. "Look at that shiny thing over there". Unfortunately the shiny thing is the effect of unhealthy sleep deprivation.

exactly the same. Just one nights poor sleep and the overcompensation of the mind makes life a living hell. Anxiety, depression and feeling like in a haze is absolute torture.

Poor sleep I would think is different than no sleep. The nights I get poor sleep, approximately 2~3 hours or less, the following day would be nothing but intrusive thoughts, depression about those thoughts and exhaustion. The nights I had NO sleep the following day all of those symptoms would virtually be gone.

Exact same experiences here. As soon as I start to develop a sleep deficit, all those negative feelings come racing back.

My experience is that sleep deprivation amplifies emotion. That can be good or bad feelings. It's like an op-amp.

Prayer is like a diode. It manages the low emotions.

Together, sleeping less and praying more works like an AC-DC rectifier. My average emotion moves above zero, so things are better.

I'm in the middle of a sleepless night now and am already feeling that familiar high.

I've never met anyone beyond family who could relate -- especially about the cognitive improvements, this is when I do my best work! This is an exceptionally interesting post for me.

Much of my mother's side is bipolar and it continues in me. As long as I can remember noticing, I run through 3 very definitive emotional states:

* I am feeling productive and withdraw from society. I get frustrated when I'm unable to work and often go without sleep to make up lost time

* I am feeling social and withdraw from the extreme productivity. I simply don't want to sleep when I can have late night company

* I am feeling depressed and withdraw from everything and everyone. I am inconsolable and confused by my mood. I eventually and magically get sick of it, often after a sleepless night

The sleep deprivation is a critical part of my natural rhythm now that I really think about it. The article rings deeply true.

So the cure for depression is to take hallucinogens like ketamine or deliberately deprive yourself of sleep? It's like making yourself happier by making yourself less sharp. Perhaps, then, one is depressed because one is rational - because there are real, serious problems with life that need to be dealt with, not escaped. The recent "cures" sound almost Huxley-an.

You can have everything you want in life and still be depressed. I find even people who have been there and overcome can forget this about depression.

Depression is a thing that happens to you, an ailment that occurs. Sadness about a sad thing is not depression, apathy because things aren't going okay is not depression. They can lead to depression if they go on long enough, but they aren't themselves a mental disorder. They're just emotions.

Depression is a mental disorder. An incorrectly operating subroutine in your brain that's flooding you with emotions that make no sense and shutting down others that you would normally feel given the circumstances.

You stop smiling at puppies, you stop crying for movies, but then you cry because you dropped your fork, and get annoyed that people you love are talking (okay, sometimes that's normal!).

Granted, your line of thinking is why I think some people stay at jobs they hate, stress themselves out with it, and then fall into depression through years of stress and apathy toward their health. But you could also suffer from depression while working a job you love and sleeping on stacks of cash every night.

This isn't wrong, but it is a simplistic model of one layer of depression, which can be a pragmatic way to look at it for some people during some periods, typically the most severe periods. I've suffered from severe depression for my whole adult life, and I am thankful that I haven't had a psychiatrist who subscribed to the medical model as an absolute, in many years. The big picture of depression can indeed be about your life, and no psychiatrist I've seen in the past 15 years has failed to acknowledge that. It's well known that major depression often follows major life stresses such as divorce, breakups, deaths, trauma, other illnesses, and so on. I've never found it fruitful to make it either all about the brain, or all about your life. It's rather a feedback loop between the two. The very nature of subjectivity makes it almost nonsensical to try to distinguish between your mind and your life, from your own perspective. And there's a reason treatment almost always includes talk therapy. I've always been able to articulate what my depression is about. Some people can't. It's just not so clear cut.

I’ve known depression through a relationship with a significant other.

Their worries were not solely based on rational issues. They would be depressed at a mall because it wasn’t in a city. Then depressed in a city because they felt removed from their comfort zone.

Depression is a mental illness and it sucks. Much of the medicine for depression causes depression to worsen.

I hope we unlock a cure in our lifetime.

That's a bad way to put it, not that I'm saying sleep deprivation is a good idea.

In the case of ketamine, the improvement might be produced by a metabolic derivative with fewer side-effects than ketamine [1]. And it improves the connectivity of the brain [2] [3], so most likely doesn't make the patient "less sharp".

For what it's worth, exercise can have the same effect [4].

[1] https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/05/understanding-ketami...

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25613382

[3] https://www.ted.com/talks/rebecca_brachman_could_a_drug_prev...

[4] https://elifesciences.org/articles/15092

Ketamine doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t make you less sharp (except for the short period of time when you’re under the influence). I just did it for the third time this week and the effect is not what you describe. It is not an escape. I’m able to think more clearly and be _more_ rational because I don’t have the heavy weight of depression clouding my mind. I feel like ketamine reboots my mind. It pulls me out of the ruminative loop that seems to be the root of my depression and lets me restart life with a clean slate. It allows me to see things more clearly and deal with the real issues causing my depression.

How do you know you're not hallucinating that your mind is clearer?

Because it's not a hallucinogen.

Depression is weird in that it can be both.

You can be depressed due to specific problems... and you can be depressed because your brain sucks. The latter is something that's nice to just get rid of, somehow.

Depression and anxiety do horrendous damage to cognition, scramble health, cost wages over time, and increase all-cause mortality. And a lot is driven by irrational thoughts.

That being said, imho there is absolute something there to the "too rational" bit. One gets really good at coming up with reasons something will not work. Negativity bias becomes overwhelming, and hope and optimism get swamped by a unproductive abundance of cynicism.

Personally I find it's the opposite if I'm not well rested I feeling death and feel super depressed. I had a job that believed this and limited us sometimes to only 90 minutes sleep. I never worked with a more angry group of people. I'm 46 years old, working like that at 45 almost killed me. Oversleeping can also be a factor in depression but there is a golden sweet spot of just enough sleep and not too much that can vary greatly between individuals you have to find out for yourself what that sweet spot is. Certainly 90 minutes is not enough to sustain health

> I had a job that believed this and limited us sometimes to only 90 minutes sleep.

Can you elaborate on that? How could your employer possibly control something like how long you sleep?

I’ve experienced this first hand. However the line is very thin as sleep deprivation tends to ricochet in the other direction.

Roughly 2 years ago I fell into a depression because of debilitating anxiety. The anxiety would keep me awake through the night. Low and behold the whole next day the depression and anxiety would be gone. I wouldn't be overly tired either, so the trade off was fine. This would happen roughly once or twice a week. Always, the next day following a sleepless night I pretty much felt 'normal'.

Eventually I swallowed my pride and went to the doctor and was prescribed an SSRI & NDRI. I was too afraid to take the SSRI(with anxiety can some OCD, I was obsessed for awhile I was becoming schizophrenic) so only took the NDRI(Wellbutrin, generic). Eventually it pulled me out of my depression and I was began sleeping normally again. I weened off the NDRI about 6 months later.

Luckily the depression hasn't came back, in full force. I go through cycles of what I would say "mini-depression" every once awhile, but I am able to push through and conquer. The medicine was a must for me to get through my depression and get back on a normal sleep cycle. I don't miss the sleepless nights at all, but they sure helped me stay somewhat sane during those rough times.

The symptoms you described in your first paragraph describe what I'm currently going through to a tee. Theses symptoms only started about a week ago for me.

Day 1: Debilitating anxiety, can't concentrate.

Night 1: Can't sleep, overwhelmed by anxious rumination.

Day 2: Anxiety eventually subsides because I'm so exhausted. By the evening, I'm feeling like my old self again - I might have anxious thoughts but they don't become obsessive ruminations.

Night 2: Sleep well. Repeat cycle.


I'm glad you got better. Hopefully the same will happen for me as well.

Good job. That's all I can say. Good job.

Ok, so this is one possible thing to try when one has depression. Who is keeping a list of all things to try, and where does this experiment fit in that list?

Sounds like a a web app with voting would be a useful thing. In the UK mental health services have almost disappeared, especially for those who are not extreme. Maybe a list of things to try yourself is useful?

Well this got the better of me, there is now a list on Github https://github.com/Jimnotgym/Hacking_Depression

Please PR if you want to comment. I'll do a ShowHN once there is more on it

This is a great initiative!

Some quick ideas. Perhaps you can mention what should determine the order in the list. For example, every experiment has:

- A success rate.

- An average time to noticeable improvement

- An average time to recovery.

- Risk and severity of side effects.

- Cost.

- Difficulty.

- More?

So for example, checking for nutritional deficiencies (very important) or other tests can be near the top of the list (little side effects, low cost, not difficult, etc). But psychotherapy should be near the bottom (high cost, difficult, long recovery time, etc.)

Perhaps split according to cure/prevention/coping strategy. (For example SSRIs are in many cases a coping strategy and not a cure).

Again, great work!

If we can get a consensus about what people are doing, rather than just what is getting posted on HN I am happy to write a quick app that applies your very sensible success criteria. Comments Issues and PR are most welcome

I would love a well-researched list like that. My personal prioritized list is: therapy, medication, close friendships, meditation, journalling, reading books on psychology, getting enough sleep, exercise. (I guess that's ordered from most to least promising, not necessarily order of things to try.) But it's mostly just intuition from my own experiences, not scientific.

My gut reaction is that sleep deprivation is worth trying, but probably near the bottom of the list. I've found that sleep deprivation has a strong correlation with depression for me. But different things work for different people.

Interesting, this has worked for me on occasion during times of suffering from depression and anxiety and I was wondering about it recently. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping and have noticed positive effects in my mood and energy level the next day after staying up all night.

> “We can think of it not as sleep-depriving people, but as modifying or enlarging the period of the sleep–wake cycle from 24 to 48 hours,” says Benedetti. “People go to bed every two nights, but when they go to bed, they can sleep for as long as they want.”

That reminds me of the sleep experiments performed by Michel Siffre [1] in the 60‘s & 70‘s who studied the experience of time underground without time cues. He found that without time cues, several people including himself adjusted to a 48-hour rather than a 24-hour cycle.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Siffre

[2] www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/30/foer.php

I have a history of depression and anti depressants. I stopped them some years ago, and I went to a 2 weeks military training 3 years after I stopped those meds.

Not only did I love it, but it really gave a big energy boost. Awesome sleep.

Maybe depression comes from boredom.

Another way is travelling and getting hit by a considerable time difference.

It seems resetting your circadian rhythm can, in some circumstances, have beneficial effect.

I knew someone that referred to doing that as "degaussing".

I disagree with that study. Myself and a colleague used to go for days on what were called "micro naps". After a certain amount of practice you can train your mind to hit REM within the first few seconds of shutting your eyes for sleep.

Over time it really messes with your head. You become very irritable. Lookup "Peter Tripp, radio DJ". A very famous story with a very sad ending. Long-term sleep deprivation is very bad for you. I know, I've tried it.

On the herbals: Fishoil gel tablets work very well for depression, if you don't mind some occasional fish smell. They keep me very clear when I take them. Caveat: If you have MAOI inhibitor issues you gotta make sure you can take certain supplements safely. This is a great discussion and the 2nd time I have heard of the positive impacts of sleep deprivation on depression (SD/D). 1st time I didn't buy it because lack of sleep, unless I am working on a project, makes me amped up and close to rowdy. I use the rowdiness to workout, walk, skateboard or bike; all of the above manages depression and absorbs high energy. Hearing so many intellectual viewpoints on YC makes the SD/D argument more believable.I thought I was the only one with this issue.

I can anecdotally confirm that for me, sleep deprivation appeared to significantly alleviate symptoms of severe anxiety. Around a year ago I was having what I think you'd call panic attacks every day and general anxiety all day. I had a breakdown of I think about six weeks, mostly focused on my insecurity about not having a better job, masters degree, etc. Etc. I was non functional.

I read about the sleep deprivation studies then. One day I had stayed up very late anyway, so I decided I would just wrap it around and stay up all night. I had no job to go to anyway.

That day I had no strong attacks and generally felt far more relaxed. It was a great respite.

However, it's very temporary. For me it felt like respite, not a cure. A break from attacks and nerves. It came back over the next few days. I wish I'd kept a more detailed diary. Why I'm okay now I can't say for sure, however I sleep too little and quite badly now, being busy with work, clubbing, parties, and coding in my spare time, so there's possibly a correlation there - causation, who knows. I don't think eight hours of sleep is bad, I think it's beneficial, but I do think over sleeping is harmful to mental health and easy to do - my theory is that like high calorie foods, we didn't evolve with unlimited sleep available to us, so getting too much just wasn't a thing.

Of course, it's one data point and could be the placebo effect for coincidence, but, much like my experience using MDMA to improve a depressive attitude (careful: may make it worse for some people), the effect was real enough to me that I personally believe in it and think it can be valuable to at least a subset of people if used carefully.

The most useful model of depression I've found is that it's anger directed inward.

Essentially, a restriction of emotional freedom and a suppression of feeling all our emotions.

This is typically due to trauma or neglect or some other developmental adaptation not to feel fully.

This is reinforced by a culture in which people try to fix or cheer you up when sad or angry.

In a culture where actually feeling basic human emotions are taboo, feeling said emotions can be extremely isolating.

If you've never felt safe fully feeling your emotions, it will be unlikely you will ever learn unless you conciously work on it and build relationships with people who can hold space for your entire range of experience.

Psychedelics can help because they loosen the pathways of suppression and can help us reintegrate the parts of ourself that we've been suppressing.

Main stream treatments like SSRIs end up making things worse long term because they just reinforce suppressing symptoms.

I spent a decade of my life dealing with depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, suicidal thoughts, bipolar, anxiety and panic attacks.

The things that helped me were a mindset that feeling all of my emotions was fully was required to be healthy, seeking out people and processes to help me get more embodied and to feel, Psychedelic therapy (specifically to be able to go deeper into emotion), NARM therapy to help me do relationship in a way that was connected; telling the 100% truth in relationship and holding space for the emotions that emerge; falling and staying in love; Gratitude.

I've mapped out these states of consciousness enough in myself and in people I've worked with combined with finding enough accounts of others as well as emerging research to believe that we are on the cusp of a fundamental shift in how people deal with mental health.

I'm now in love and enaged, working on a number of creative projects, my relationships are antifragile and honest, I have a practice helping others with relationships & mental health; don't take psychiatric medication (occasionally a tune up with psychedelics); and if I encounter a context which triggers something like depression, psychosis, mania, anxiety, etc. I understand how to work with those states to emerge from them even more integrated and connected to myself.

The biggest developmental edge now is that once you start healing old traumas, you need to finish the work. Meaning, things will continue to come to the surface for your attention. It's not always easy, but the end result is always worth the time and work to release and heal.

This last month I've really gotten aware of how being sexually assaulted at 25 really left an imprint. I had remembered what happened intellectually, but realized I never released the somatic memory of it.

Residual anger, shame and fear kept coming up during sex with my fiancé and it wasn't until I made space to fully go into those emotions that I was able to see the connection with the assault (in grad school a male student got me drunk under the pretext of going to pick up girls and then tried to have sex with me while I was too drunk to move.)

So, the work is not done, but man, my life is unrecognizable to where it was when I began this work and my creative life has really opened up to more possibility (we just signed a contract to buy a tropical island in Panama and build a village for visionaries! Please come visit!).

Anyhow, I feel its my dharma to share my story and experiences and the personal research I've done, so thanks for giving me a space to do that.

Excellent comment. Returned after some hours to check if some other people followed your thread and I felt the need to give you this simple feedback.

Feelings/Emotions are a neglected part of our western culture.

The inner world is really our final frontier. Appreciate your feedback.

Thanks for your comment :) Can you recommend some books which had an impact on your way of thinking?

This is good news, but also shows how little we actually understand the complexity of our bodies and our brain in particular. We have good antidepressants, but besides observing the positive effects, there doesn't seem much of a consensus on what exactly these psychoactive molecules are doing to help.

So no surprise that something seemly simple like sleep deprivation can have a massive effect on the issue. It's not like we understand all the mysteries of sleep either.

The involved mechanism and chemistry are so complex, and we barley scrap the surface, even with all the advances in medicine. So many people arguing about what depression is, what it's causes are, but it would be foolish to assume we have this even remotely figured out, and I would be very open-minded to anything on this issue.

inb4 a lot of sources sleep deprivation is hurting your brain in a long term. Not sure what's better.

it can have many other nasty side effects too, such as weakening your immune system. Which can in turn cause rising levels of inflammaton which is really undesirable w.r.t. the original objective. So if your physical constitution is not perfect, better don't do this.

It should be noted that anti-depressants also have side effects.

I dont doubt that. The way how I treat depression myself is via acupuncture. Works great so far.

Huh well whatever works for people. If I don’t get enough sleep I am more prone to depression, not less.

Saw this article and decided to try to roll over my half-phase-out-of-sync horrific sleep schedule by staying awake through the next day. My mind was nowhere near fully functional from the period of 6pm the first day through 11:30pm the next, but I somehow managed to experience a sense of urgency and elatedness I may have forgotten how to feel over the last few years, and got some work done to boot.

Unfortunately I'm back as hopeless as ever today, but I would be willing to bet with a little more discipline it'd be a pretty great way to at the very least quickly restore a sleep-early wake-early sleep schedule.

If you are tired maybe you don’t think too much, thinking too much is part of depression

> “Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression,” says Benedetti. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll feel in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities. But, Benedetti adds, there’s a catch: once you go to sleep and catch up on those missed hours of sleep, you’ll have a 95 per cent chance of relapse.

This is really counter intuitive to me. The article goes on explaining that using a combination of skipping sleep, lithium and light treatment the results are much better.

I noticed this myself a long time ago. I have major anxiety, stress and depression problems(the last one I mostly fixed).

When I stay up very late, or lose most of a night's sleep, I no longer care. I'm very resistant to stress. The downside, aside from numerous all other long term negatives of sleep deprivation, is that I can't focus on anything moderately complicated and take loong to get anything done. It's like time passes faster. And it's really hard to make decisions.

In retrospect, I've been leveraging this effect constantly since early high school. I suspect this explains many people's poor sleep habits. Anyone else?

Whenever I read about this sleep-cures-depression topic on HN (and it seems to come up relatively often) I think about and often go back and read this post. [0] Definitely doesn't have all the answers but it really changed how I thought about the issue.

[0] http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/14/ssc-journal-club-mental...

Besides experimenting with polyphasic sleep and such, I could never think that sleep deprivation could become a therapy.

Regardless of the validity of these claims, I welcome this new idea into my brain.

Ya I used to pull an all nighter once a week. It has a lot of long term deleterious effects but it does the trick for a day break from depression.

Strange, in my case (tested on myself and my wife) sleep deprivation (e.g. sleeping and hour or two less than optimal sleep time) causes depression.

And then there is just a new article posted up there in HN that talks about how bad sleep increases risk of depression

I've successfully managed allergies with sleep deprivation. The issue is that it is obviously not sustainable.

Care to explain how?

How: By keeping myself busy and not sleeping!

But I suspect that's not the question you were asking.

Does it really work: It works for me, yes. But we are all different and I suspect it'd have different effect on different people.

Why does it work (for me)?

I don't know for sure, it could be placebo effect or... I have read that lack of sleep affect the production of cortisol and histamine, interestingly enough some studies say increase, some say decrease (could it be a different effect based on individual?). The fact is, both histamine and cortisol affect the immune response, and allergies are basically your immune system reacting too much or reacting to the wrong thing.

Definitely not sustainable for more than 2 or 3 days, but it's a nice way to take a break from drugs.

Careful with this, sleep deprivation is known to cause health issues.


This article confuses depression and bipolar disorder quite a bit. They're inducing mania through sleep deprivation in patients with bipolar disorder going through a period of depression. This is somewhat dangerous, as mania can have severe consequences. The article even states that there's a 95% relapse into depression for those not taking lithium. Only people with BPD take lithium. It's not about the lithium, it's about that population having BPD.

DO NOT TRY THIS IF YOU HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER WITHOUT MEDICAL SUPERVISION. Inducing mania could ruin your life. If you don't have BPD, then this likely won't work anyway.

I have several family members with BPD. Irregular sleep schedule is a major warning sign that mania is coming on, and interrupted sleep schedule can induce mania.

I can see why you might try this in a controlled setting, and I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm just saying that this is very dangerous, and should not be done without qualified medical supervision.

It's probably worth noting that bipolar disorder and manic depression are the same condition. In other words, bipolar disorder is a form of depression, though they could have been more clear and said "other forms of depression" in certain places.

In recent writing it's usually seen as more clear to treat them as distinct (though related) disorders rather than bipolar being a subset of depression, although that usage is still common. The ICD, for example, classifies "Bipolar affective disorder" (F31) and "Recurrent depressive disorder" (F33) as two distinct disorders under the parent category "Mood [affective] disorders".

This should be the top comment! I flagged this article because it is giving bad medical advice.

Please don't use uppercase for emphasis on HN. This is in the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Understood. My bad.

Just to clarify: when you say BPD here, do you mean bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder? I've only known it as the latter (and a quick Google search agrees), but from context I assume you mean the former?

He means the former. You cannot induce a personality disorder, its a lifetime of trained patterned thinking/action/deficit.

What Shikadi said. Also, if you tend toward bipolar (manic/depressive episodes), maintaining a constant sleep schedule can keep you out of the extreme highs and lows.

Good point. Losing too much sleep as a bipolar can interfere with patience and decision- making once you get into those highs.

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