Monday, October 29, 2007

Sleep Deprivation and Psychiatric Disorders

This is an interesting article about a study that shows that sleep deprivation causes increased activity in parts of the brain linked to various psychiatric disorders:

Lack of sleep linked to emotional imbalance, imaging study suggests

It brought to mind when I read about author Iris Chang's suicide a few years ago and how it struck me that the stories suggested to me that sleep deprivation, three days without sleep while overworking, had triggered her psychosis and depression. I had bookmarked this article. It might not be a conclusion that other people would have come to or consider much, since it seems that both the medical and lay understanding of depression is mainly focused on its relationship to emotional or mental stress instead of physical stress, even as it's now accepted that depression is a disorder with a biological basis. But from the related timeline of events and history, it seems quite apparent to me that those three days of sleep deprivation were really the immediate cause.

Anyone who has pulled all-nighters while studying knows how it feels. It's actually kind of hard to describe. Dazed, muddled, kind of crazy altered state of mind. If you actually think about it, something physical is going on in your brain to cause that and it's not something good. We probably assume that it doesn't cause lasting damage. But maybe it's like how you can revive a slightly wilted plant but if you don't water it for too long, it becomes unsalvageable.


Florence said...

Come 9 November 2007 (Friday), less than 10 days from today, it's the heart-breaking 3rd anniversary of Dr Iris's passing.

Will you be paying a visit to her grave at The Gate of Heaven on that day?