Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Question For the Week: Does depression affect your REM sleep or dreams?

I've been feeling depressed since the beginning of summer 2008 and it's been getting worse recently and I've noticed I'm recalling my dreams more often. I think when my depression was really bad a few months ago I recalled several of my dreams, also.

Do you know or have you heard anything about depression and dreams being related?

Dreams and depression are thought to be very much correlated. Research shows that many times depression reacts to either serotonin levels in the brain or the receptors of serotonin. That is why many anti-depressant drugs either mimic serotonin or help produce more. Depression has shown by research to be caused sometimes by abnormal amount of serotonin in the brain along with other neurotransmitters that are also related to dreaming. Natural ant-depressants such as 5-HTP or Saint John’s Wort either are a precursor to serotonin or support the increase amount of serotonin in the brain.

Research shows that serotonin is a demodulator of the REM cycle in sleep. REM is where the majority of our dreams come from. If serotonin is not as abundant as it should be in the brain then you would have less deactivation of the REM allowing for more dreams but also less NREM (containing deep sleep) sleep stages. You may wake up and feel sleepy even though you slept eight hours or you could have problems remembering things during the day since serotonin plays a great role in memory.

If you want to possibly fix this problem I suggest you seek out the natural supplement Saint John’s Wort or if you want a prescription drug, talk to a doctor.

Barrett, D., & McNamara, P. (2007). The New Science of Dreaming. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Hameroff, M. B. (Director). (2006). Dream Debate [Motion Picture].
Hobson, A. J. (2002). The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness. MIT Press.
Wolf, F. A. (1995). The Dreaming Universe. Simon and Schuster.
Yuschak, T. (2006). Advanced Lucid Dreaming - The Power of Supplements.


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