June 14, 2024

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Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression

Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression



Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression.

A recent study suggests that adjusting the daily routines of “night owls,” especially adolescents with depression, can alleviate their depressive symptoms.

It turns out that their sleep patterns are dictated by biological traits rather than laziness.

Promoting healthy sleep among these “night owl” adolescents can help align their biological rhythms with the demands of school.

School systems are not designed for late-sleeping, late-rising children, often referred to as “night owls,” which might explain why these adolescents are more prone to depression.

Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression

Now, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have found a way to help these children adapt to their natural sleep cycles while fulfilling their school obligations. These findings are a welcome sign for adolescents with depression, as they are more likely to stay up late than most people.

Forty percent of adolescents identify as “night owls,” and among those with depression, 80% report having a delayed sleep pattern. The key to successful intervention is teaching these “night owls” to structure their lives so they can go to bed as late as possible while gently training their bodies to fall asleep earlier.

 

Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression.

 

 

Dr. Lauren Asarnow, a clinical psychologist specializing in sleep health research at the UCSF Health Center, stated, “One significant finding here is that there is a subset of adolescents for whom sleep therapy is especially crucial for improving depressive symptoms. Another significant finding is that they really need to live a lifestyle that aligns better with their sleep-wake biological characteristics.”

This study, published in the August issue of the “Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,” analyzed data from 42 participants with clinical depression who had participated in a large study of 176 night owl adolescents. Of these, 24 adolescents received an intervention called “Transdiagnostic Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Intervention” (TransS-C), while 18 received an education course on healthy lifestyles. All participants kept sleep diaries and wore devices to measure sleep quality. Additionally, they received 45 minutes of therapy each week for eight weeks.

 

Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression.

 

 

At the start of the study, all adolescents had Children’s Depression Rating Scale scores of at least 40, indicating severe clinical depression. A score of 28 or lower indicates some relief. Six months into treatment, the intervention group’s average score dropped to 21.67, while the healthy lifestyle intervention group had an average score of 32.5. After 12 months of treatment, the intervention group had an average score of 24.97, compared to 32.75 in the control group.

Subsequently, a larger study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health is set to open registration for 200 adolescents in the Bay Area this fall.

 

Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression.

 

 

Each year, about 3 million adolescents experience at least one severe episode of depression, with approximately 40% showing no response to treatment. Research indicates that adolescents who naturally prefer late nights and late mornings are at a higher risk of recurrent depression, more severe depression, suicidal tendencies, and poor response to antidepressants.

Asarnow commented, “There’s a saying in our psychology and psychiatry clinics that the best treatment for depression and anxiety is summer vacation. We can’t label these kids as ‘lazy’ anymore. Many times, it’s just their biological traits. It’s not their fault.”

 

 

 

Sleep-Wake Therapy Brings Hope to Adolescents with Depression

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