Chronotherapeutics: an alternative treatment of juvenile depression

Stephanie Gest, Tanja Legenbauer, Sarah Bogen, Carina Schulz, Benjamin Pniewski, Martin Holtmann
Medical Hypotheses 2014, 82 (3): 346-9
Chronotherapeutic treatments, such as bright light therapy, sleep deprivation and sleep phase advance have successfully been established for the treatment of adults with seasonal and major depression. Today, sleep deprivation is supposed to be the fastest acting antidepressant we know of. Combined with bright light therapy, the antidepressive effect can be sustained. Notwithstanding, the effect of sleep deprivation and bright light therapy has not yet been studied in adolescents suffering from juvenile depression. However, because of its growing prevalence rates and the insufficient outcomes of established treatments, such as medication and psychotherapy, alternative treatments of juvenile depression are urgently needed. Furthermore, a high percentage of patients suffer from sleep disorders. Along with their large positive impact on sleep patterns and antidepressive effects, chronotherapeutics are thought to be powerful interventions for patients with juvenile depression. The present study investigates the additional benefit of sleep deprivation combined with bright light therapy, as compared to mere bright light therapy. We hypothesize that both therapies have a positive impact on depressive symptoms and sleep parameters, but that a combined therapy enhances and sustains outcomes.

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