Early life stress and depression associated with sleep disturbances

April 17, 2018, University of Helsinki

Early life stress, sleep disturbances and alterations in neuronal plasticity have been associated with depression, yet the relation between these factors and depression remains poorly understood.

In her doctoral dissertation, M.Sc. Olena Santangeli from University of Helsinki explored the interconnection between and starting from early stage of development. Possible molecular mechanisms underlying this interaction were assessed using animal models. The investigation of sleep disturbances in early-onset depression in humans was performed in depressed adolescents.

To assess the effect of early life stress on sleep and possible mechanisms of this effect, she used cross-fostering in rats, i.e. pups were changed between mothers.

"Cross-fostered rats demonstrated negligible changes in behaviour. However, they showed profound changes in sleep architecture: duration and number of rapid eye movement sleep episodes was significantly increased compared to controls. Moreover, cross-fostering led to persistent molecular changes in the brain areas crucial for sleep regulation," Santangeli says.

To further investigate sleep disturbances in early-onset depression Santangeli studied sleep in depressed adolescent boys using polysomnography.

"The sleep of depressed boys was characterized by lower slow-wave activity, or SWA, and its slower rise during the course of first non-rapid eye movement sleep episode compared to healthy boys. The SWA dissipation through the night in depressed patients had flatter shape compared to healthy subjects. Moreover, a negative correlation between SWA dissipation and depression severity was detected," Santangeli says.

All the changes were more pronounced in the frontal derivation compared to central derivation that support the idea that and depression might share common neurobiological mechanisms.

"In summary, stress leaves persistent molecular trace in the brain, and sleep appears to be one of the most prominent indicators of early stressful events. Early life onset depression is characterized by changes in sleep macro-and microarchitecture that are associated with depressive symptoms severity," Santangeli says.

Explore further: Study suggests an answer to young people's persistent sleep problems

Related Stories

Study suggests an answer to young people's persistent sleep problems

September 28, 2017
A collaborative research project involving James Cook University and the University of Queensland indicates high rates of sleep problems continuing through teenage years and into early adulthood - but also suggests a natural ...

Depression predicts disturbed sleep among stroke survivors

February 10, 2015
Depression is a powerful predictor of nighttime sleep disturbances among stroke survivors, according to research presented at the Nursing Symposium of the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2015.

A vicious cycle in osteoarthritis: Sleep disturbance-pain-depression-disability

October 6, 2014
New research confirms that sleep disturbances are linked to pain and depression, but not disability, among patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Study results published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American ...

Brain wave activity associated with circadian preferences

November 3, 2017
A new study from the University of Helsinki, Finland, shows that individual circadian preference is associated with brain activity patterns during the night.

Lack of sleep could cause mood disorders in teens

December 6, 2017
Chronic sleep deprivation—which can involve staying up late, and waking up early for work or school—has become a way of life for both kids and adults, especially with the increasing use of phones and tablets late into ...

Sleep duration impacts treatment response for depressed patients with insomnia

June 5, 2017
Preliminary results from a new study show that depressed patients with insomnia who sleep seven or more hours per night are more likely to benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) and achieve depression ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover abundant source for neuronal cells

December 13, 2018
USC researchers seeking a way to study genetic activity associated with psychiatric disorders have discovered an abundant source of human cells—the nose.

New genetic clues to early-onset form of dementia

December 13, 2018
Unlike the more common Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia tends to afflict young people. It accounts for an estimated 20 percent of all cases of early-onset dementia. Patients with the illness typically begin to ...

Video game players frequently exposed to graphic content may see world differently

December 13, 2018
People who frequently play violent video games are more immune to disturbing images than non-players, a UNSW-led study into the phenomenon of emotion-induced blindness has shown.

How teens deal with stress may affect their blood pressure, immune system

December 13, 2018
Most teens get stressed out by their families from time to time, but whether they bottle those emotions up or put a positive spin on things may affect certain processes in the body, including blood pressure and how immune ...

How bullying affects the brain

December 12, 2018
New research from King's College London identifies a possible mechanism that shows how bullying may influence the structure of the adolescent brain, suggesting the effects of constantly being bullied are more than just psychological.

Increased motor activity linked to improved mood

December 12, 2018
Increasing one's level of physical activity may be an effective way to boost one's mood, according to a new study from a team including scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.