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Antidepressants linked with acting out of violent dreams during sleep

Thursday, June 22, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition


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(NewsTarget) -- The results of a recent Mayo Clinic study indicate that antidepressant drugs may trigger an unusual sleep disorder called REM Behavior Disorder, or RBD, that causes sufferers to violently act out their dreams during REM sleep, often harming themselves or those in bed with them.

RBD is typically diagnosed in men who are over 50 years old, so researchers compared 22 young RBD patients with 22 age- and sex-matched patients suffering from a different sleep disorder -- obstructive sleep apnea -- as well as a group of older RBD patients. They found that among the young RBD patients, 80 percent were using antidepressant drugs. Only 15 percent of the obstructive sleep apnea patients were on antidepressants, and the older RBD group also had a much lower rate of antidepressant use.

Recent research has indicated that antidepressants affect REM sleep, which has led some to conclude that the drugs cause RBD, but Dr. R. Robert Auger, who helped conduct the study, says that the underlying mental illness could also trigger RBD.

Auger says early-onset RBD can be treated by switching patients to antidepressants that affect different brain pathways than the common antidepressants. However, as the research on early-onset RBD is still very limited, researchers advise RBD patients to continue taking their antidepressants and to stick to common RBD treatments, which include melatonin therapy and safety measures such as removing harmful objects from the sleep area.

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