Sleep & Depression - This project will investigate the effect of natural light exposure and sleep-wake pattern in subjects with depressive illnesses.
A drug-free, non-laboratory-based and simple to deliver intervention will be tested for the treatment of depression in young adults.
Sleep disturbances are a core symptom experienced by most patients with depression. Those who suffered a recurrence clearly demonstrate increasing level of sleep disturbance severity over several weeks prior to recurrence. Thus remission should accompany a tendency for sleep abnormalities to normalise after successful treatment.
Whilst there is a clear place for the use of antidepressant drugs for adults with severe depression, pharmacotherapy is associated with many side effects, has poor patient adherence to treatment, high relapse rate and has consistently shown delay before response is achieved. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy, has been found to be somewhat superior to antidepressants in the treatment of adult depression. Although efficacious, the therapy is expensive and requires many sessions. A third strategy of bright light exposure, or “dawn simulation” was found to be effective in alleviating depression. The antidepressant effect of morning bright light may be attributable to a re-alignment of the sleep-wake cycle by earlier awakening. However, most of the light therapy literature did not meet recognised criteria for rigorous clinical trial design.
The current proposed study hypothesizes that sleep disturbance, in the form of sleep timing and/ or waking, or in sleep structure, is a significant component of pathology in depression. Thus the study aims to re-align the sleep-wake rhythm by entraining the sleep-wake cycle to the natural light-dark cycle by natural light exposure.
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The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 548
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