It has been known for quite a while that if a person is in a prolonged depressed mood state, simply shortening that person's periods of sleep (usually by getting the person up earlier, to bright light) can do a lot to boost the person's mood state.
On the other hand, for the many people who have bipolar mood disorders (so that they have abnormally elevated mood as well as abnormally depressed mood not related to immediate events in the people's lives), sleep deprivation can be dangerous, as it can trigger mania. Severe sleep deprivation can result in all the psychotic symptoms of florid mania even for most people without a medical history of mood disorders, and it is particularly dangerous for people who have already been through an episode of mania. So as other people here have already commented, regularity of sleep (sleep while it's dark, and get up while it's day) is helpful for mood disorders, up or down, and sleep deprivation by itself will not be a cure-all for all cases of depression.
AFTER EDIT: I appreciate HN participant falcolas reminding all of us, in a first reply to this comment, that the submitted article is about an animal model of a proposed drug treatment that may have some of the effects of sleep deprivation without having other effects. Yes, that is what the article is about, and I acknowledged that even after reading the article, the first part of this comment's text (above) had as much to do with other comments here as it had to do with the actual article, maybe more. That said, as investigation of new drug treatments moves from animal models to human clinical trials, the thing to look for in any drug proposed to treat "depression" (depressed mood) is whether it might trigger mania (elevated mood) in the patient receiving the treatment. It's tough to develop an animal model of the psychotic symptoms of mania, which is why this is not an easy problem to solve--how to develop a drug that makes depressed patients enjoy normal mood states without breaking through to florid mania.
"This finding points to a promising target for new drug development because it suggests that mimicking sleep deprivation chemically may offer the antidepressant benefits without the unwanted side effects of actually skipping sleep."
So no, they aren't recommending sleep deprivation as a method to combat depression. It has, however, given them other lines of research to follow.
I actually have to semi-plan my workweek based on when I wake up each day and how much sleep I get, because only on days I've actually slept do I have the mood to deal with people or the energy and concentration to properly get anything done.
You may already know this but generally it is contraindicated to prescribe antidepressants in bipolar (manic-depressive illness) because of the risk of triggering mania. Contra-indicated, but not unknown.
Bipolar and depression are, of course, very different illnesses.
As an aside, this basic research (binding adenosine receptors) is interestingly at odds with the very interesting drug modafinil which partially works by increasing reuptake/clearing adenosine from the brain, which has been thought to be responsible for its wakefulness promoting and antidepressant effects
Thought you would find that interesting
It's a constant advice in many different schools of meditation: "don't sleep too much, keep your sleep duration at a minimum, wake up early, and meditate".
I don't suffer from depression but FWIW I have noticed lack of productivity leading to a down mood in the same way simply accomplishing something (even getting the room cleaned up) can lead to an up mood.
Does anyone know how we measure moods in mice? At first glance it seems like a very subjective exercise.
/hopes that we're not torturing mice for our own benefit.
As far as "torturing" goes, in the US academic studies require submission of protocols to an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee with proof that any harm caused to an animal is necessary for the study and meets federal guidelines for animal care (and because funding tends to come from federal sources, there is good incentive to meet these requirements). For studies involving pain, nerve regrowth after an insult, or other similar lines of research, injury may be unavoidable in asking the research question, but how the injury is applied must be approved by these committees. Protocols that involve harming an animal tend to be the most stringently regulated by these bodies, even more so than protocols requiring euthanasia. Furthermore, it is usually in the interest of the scientists performing the research to treat their animals consistently well, lest they find themselves with some inexplicable variables to account for.
Now, whether all or any of that merely constitutes "permitted" torture for our own benefit is a different question, but we do try to ensure that animals are treated as well as possible in a given research context.
This has always struck me as the ickiest thing I've heard, but I'm sure there's much worse out there.
Edit: And, as is the style of the day, we've had links on HN/SA and others that not enough sleep hampers cognition, weight control, and stress (which are all triggers/symptoms for depression in many people). So, you need to sleep more, and less, simultaneously?
Depression comes in a few different forms, and often people learn to live with it for so long before seeking treatment that they have different lists of symptoms.
But I avoid sleep deprivation. It can't be good in the long run.
Myself and a friend of mine suffer from depression and we both feel much better when we are somewhat tired late in the night.
Anecdotal evidence was there, so we both used to get things done just before sleep.
But I guess being busy and active can move your mind off from depression and make things better for some.
However, a depressed person can't seem to get enough sleep. Is it a snowball effect? Maybe the balance isn't about sleep deprivation, but finding the correct amount of sleep, waking to bright light, and keeping a consistent schedule.
This has not been my experience. If you mean that a depressed person continues to be tired after waking up from a full night's sleep, then sure, but that's not sleep deprivation.
But the next day you will wake up in a bad mood from not sleeping well.
At least this is what happens to me.
So in general it's a bad idea.
On the other hand, I've found that if I sleep for too long I also get a bad mood the next day.
8 hours of sleep seems to be the sweet spot that puts me in a decent mood.
I'm a Bayesian, and looking at the posts here, I'd say the probability distribution of this probability is beta(5,2). The HDR runs from around 40 to 97 percent and it peaks around 0.8 so what you and the other guys are saying, plus a non-informative prior, agrees with what they say.
You're just one of the unlucky beta(2,5). Too bad.
This article is not describing a treatment, just progress in understanding a mental illness.
If the article's thesis is correct, if depression can be modulated by way of brain chemistry, the it's not a mental illness, it's a physical illness with mental symptoms.
I say this because over time, more and more "mental" illnesses have been recategorized as physical or genetic conditions that happen to have mental symptoms, including schizophrenia and bipolar syndrome, both of which respond dramatically to neurological treatments, and not at all to psychological treatments.
This change in the status of "mental" illnesses was recently recognized by the director of the NIMH, who in Scientific American said, "In most areas of medicine, doctors have historically tried to glean something about the underlying cause of a patient's illness before figuring out a treatment that addresses the source of the problem. When it came to mental or behavioral disorders in the past, however, no physical cause was detectable so the problem was long assumed by doctors to be solely "mental," and psychological therapies followed suit. Today scientific approaches based on modern biology, neuroscience and genomics are replacing nearly a century of purely psychological theories, yielding new approaches to the treatment of mental illnesses."
I bet there are few here that don't already believe that. Further, whether the article is correct or not, depression is a physical illness with mental symptoms.
And I'm very glad the medical world has moved past the idiocy of the early and mid-20th century beliefs around mental illness. Maybe now we can get to some effective treatments.
My money is on pharmacology being only a single piece of the treatment, with many required (diet, exercise) to achieve full health. But hopefully a pill will help people have enough hope and energy to fulfill the rest of the treatment.
Brain injuries and hormonal problems are hardware.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a database problem.
Illogic and a tendency to over-simplify or rely on metaphors are software bugs. grin
Of course, the software and database are built in self-modifying firmware, so physical and mental issues do interact in interesting ways.
Well, there is a level on which it is, in that "software" is just hardware writ small. That is, all software that exists and actually runs on a computer exists in the form of physical configuration of states of matter, not as some non-physical entity. This was obvious in the case of some early computers where "programs" were macroscopic wiring configurations, but it is no less true of modern computers.
The artificial distinction between hardware and software can be a very useful tool in thinking about computer issues, but it isn't really true in the fundamental sense.
Certainly. But psychology's track record in identifying and "treating" mental illnesses is such that many are now looking toward neuroscience for (what they hope will be) more effective methods.
So I agree that ignoring the "mind" is unwise, but on the other hand, I don't think it should be given the status of a physical organ or assume (as many psychologists do) that it can lead to empirical science.
Science isn't usually about the experiences of individuals, it's about the experiences of populations. This effect isn't true for each individual in the population.