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    Major depression is one of the most common psychiatric illnesses. Interestingly, a few studies have indicated the existence of depression subgroups, which respond differently to the available treatment options. Previously, sleep abnormalities have been suggested to indicate amenability to different treatment regimens. Thereby, especially REM-sleep parameters seem to play a prominent role, and REM-sleep dysregulation has been repeatedly discussed as a potential endophenotype of depression. With that said, estimating therapy outcome in order to choose the best line of treatment is of utmost importance to patients suffering from depression. The present study looks deeper into these clues by investigating the capability of polysomnographic sleep parameters to predict treatment response in depressed patients to either pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy. Moderately to severely depressed patients (n = 38) were randomly assigned to either psychotherapy (i.e. interpersonal psychotherapy) or pharmacotherapy (i.e., monotherapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRI, or selective serotonin noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors, SSNRI). Prior to treatment, all patients underwent polysomnography in the sleep laboratory. After treatment, responders and non-responders of both treatment groups were compared regarding their baseline sleep parameters. Higher baseline REM density, i.e. the amount of rapid eye movements during REM sleep, predicted better response to antidepressant pharmacotherapy. In the psychotherapy group, the effect seemed reversed but was not statistically significant. No other sleep parameter predicted treatment response. Our findings support the notion that REM-sleep dysregulation is indeed indicative of a distinct endophenotype of depression and that pharmacotherapy with SSRI/SSNRI might be superior to psychotherapy in these patients. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Julia Lechinger, Jakob Koch, Sara Lena Weinhold, Mareen Seeck-Hirschner, Karoline Stingele, Cornelia Kropp-Näf, Milena Braun, Henning Johannes Drews, Josef Aldenhoff, Christian Huchzermeier, Robert Göder. REM density is associated with treatment response in major depression: Antidepressant pharmacotherapy vs. psychotherapy. Journal of psychiatric research. 2021 Jan;133:67-72

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    PMID: 33310502

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