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Antidepressants substantially affect REM sleep characteristics and trigger manifestations of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in the general, non-narcoleptic, population. Antidepressants are also frequently administrated in an attempt to suppress cataplexy. We investigated the role of antidepressants in the development of RBD in narcolepsy with cataplexy (NC) patients. Seventy-five patients diagnosed with NC were assessed by a structured interview (focused on RBD manifestations and the use of antidepressants) and night video-polysomnography followed by the multiple sleep latency test. Of all 75 NC patients (36 male, 39 female; mean age 46.1±18.5 years), 34 cases had a history of antidepressant use (45.3%; 18 male, 16 female). In this antidepressant-positive group, 13 patients suffered from RBD (38.2%). Among antidepressant-naïve patients, only 5 subjects (12.2%) were diagnosed with RBD. Polysomnographic data showed significantly increased REM latency (p<0.01) and reduced percentage of REM sleep (p<0.01) in the antidepressant-positive group, as well as more periodic limb movements during sleep (p=0.01). NC patients with a history of antidepressant use showed a three-fold higher occurrence of RBD in comparison to antidepressant-naïve patients.


Jitka Busková, David Kemlink, Veronika Ibarburu, Sona Nevsímalová, Karel Sonka. Antidepressants substantially affect basic REM sleep characteristics in narcolepsy-cataplexy patients. Neuro endocrinology letters. 2015;36(5):430-3

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PMID: 26707042

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