TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Sleep deprivation – typically administered in controlled, inpatient settings – rapidly reduces symptoms of depression in roughly half of depression patients, researchers found.

Partial sleep deprivation (sleep for three to four hours followed by forced wakefulness for 20-21 hours) was equally as effective as total sleep deprivation (being deprived of sleep for 36 hours), and medication did not appear to significantly influence these results, according to the first meta-analysis on the subject in nearly 30 years, from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Although total sleep deprivation or partial sleep deprivation can produce clinical improvement in depression symptoms within 24 hours, antidepressants are the most common treatment for depression. Such drugs typically take weeks or longer to experience results.

The findings of this meta-analysis hope to provide relief for the estimated 16.1 million adults in the US who experienced a major depressive episode in 2014.

"More than 30 years since the discovery of the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation, we still do not have an effective grasp on precisely how effective the treatment is and how to achieve the best clinical results," said study senior author Philip Gehrman. "Our analysis precisely reports how effective sleep deprivation is and in which populations it should be administered."

Reviewing more than 2,000 studies, the team pulled data from a final group of 66 studies executed over a 36 year period to determine how response may be affected by the type and timing of sleep deprivation performed (total vs early or late partial sleep deprivation), the clinical sample (having depressive or manic episodes, or a combination of both), medication status, and age and gender of the sample.

"These studies in our analysis show that sleep deprivation is effective for many populations," said lead author Elaine Boland. "Regardless of how the response was quantified, how the sleep deprivation was delivered, or the type of depression the subject was experiencing, we found a nearly equivalent response rate."