The researchers found that measuring brain rhythms during REM sleep may reflect the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment. The discovery will allow to quickly select the right therapy for patients, and not to continue ineffective treatment for several weeks without knowing the result. The work was presented at the congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology .
About 7% of adults worldwide are depressed. Standard treatments are antidepressants, usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Fluoxetine. However, it takes weeks or even months for their effects to appear, which means that patients often have to wait to see if the treatment will work without feeling it. Approximately 50% of patients fail to find the right medicine the first time.
Scientists from the University of Basel have found a connection between changes in brain rhythms in patients during REM sleep with the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment. The aim of the experiment was to observe a 50% reduction in depression symptoms on the Hamilton Standard Depression Rating Scale. The rhythms of the brain were recorded within a week after the start of treatment. Those patients whose rhythms indicated no effect were immediately transferred to another treatment. After five weeks, it was found that 87.5% of all patients participating in the experiment experienced a significant improvement in well-being. At the moment, scientists plan to increase the group of patients participating in the experiment and are developing ways to optimize the new approach.
“This pilot study showed significant improvements in patients’ condition. We have shown that by predicting a lack of response to antidepressants, we can almost immediately tailor therapy for each individual patient. This allows us to significantly reduce the average time between treatment initiation and response, which is especially important for patients with severe depression who may depend on timely help for their lives, ”said study leader Torsten Mikotate .