Sleep disturbances are a common symptom of major depression and bipolar. These disturbances may manifest as insomnia or simply the perception of poor, nonrestful sleep. Practical experience demonstrates that anything to improve a patient’s sleep will result in an improvement in depression symptoms. The atypical antipsychotic medication Seroquel (quetiapine) has recently been investigated as a potential sleep aid for bipolar or depressed individuals.
Seroquel is currently approved for use in schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar. Among this medication’s side effects are drowsiness and alterations to sleep patterns. A recent sleep study of 11 subjects attempted to determine whether moderate doses of Seroquel can significantly improve sleep patterns and therefore provide faster remission of depression. Each subject had a diagnosis of mood issues and was taking a variety of antidepressant medications, but nothing specifically for sleep.
The sleep study ran for a full month. Each subject was assessed in a sleep laboratory before the beginning of the study and twice during the course of the study. The results of the month-long study were encouraging. Subjects saw significant improvement of their sleep across a variety of measurement. Deep sleep periods were increased, providing subjects with a more rested feeling during daylight hours. REM sleep periods were shortened but more consistent. Overall, the sleep patterns of the subjects became much more normal and regular by the end of the study. At the same time, subjects reported an improvement in mood and greater feelings of well-being.
Treating the whole person is essential with severe depression and other mood issues. Quality of sleep is a fairly reliable predictor of quality of life. Therefore, any treatment that enhances sleep times or quality should be considered for people with depression. Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication, has shown promise as a safe and generally effective sleep aid for individuals who have depression. However, the sample size of this study was not large enough to come to any broad conclusions. Researchers concluded that the medication is both safe and well-tolerated, but more study is needed to learn if Seroquel’s positive effects will result in long-term positive outcomes.
- Gedge, L., Lazowski, L., Murray, D., Jokic, R., Milev, R. (2010). Effects of quetiapine on sleep architecture with unipolar or bipolar depression. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 6, 501-508.
- Quetiapine – PubMed Health. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001030/
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