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REM sleep behavior disorder at young age linked to antidepressant use

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A Mayo Clinic study has shown that the onset of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) at a younger age appears to be connected to antidepressant use.

RBD is a sleep disorder where patients act out their dreams, which are often unpleasant and violent, according to Maja Tippmann-Peikert, M.D., sleep medicine specialist, neurologist and study investigator. This acting out results from a loss of normal muscle paralysis in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the dream stage of sleep, which normally prevents enacting one's dreams. RBD patients generally act out their dreams in a defensive posture, as if fending off an attacker, says R. Robert Auger, M.D., Mayo Clinic sleep medicine specialist, psychiatrist and primary investigator. The disorder is often recognized by a bed partner.

Although previously published case reports and a more recently published study have suggested the association between antidepressants and RBD, this study represents the first systematic demonstration of the relationship. Findings will be presented June 19 at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies' SLEEP 2006 meeting in Salt Lake City.

"Our findings suggest that RBD in younger patients -- in the 30s instead of the usual age of the 50s or older -- is frequently linked to antidepressant use," says Dr. Auger. "I'd interpret this to mean one of three things: 1) in younger patients, antidepressants can cause RBD, or 2) in younger patients, RBD results in psychiatric diagnoses that then result in antidepressant prescriptions, or 3) a common factor is causing both the RBD and the psychiatric diagnoses, which in turn results in antidepressant prescriptions. If medications are implicated in a direct manner, it may be an idiosyncratic effect, it could be related to the dose of medication, or the medications simply may be unmasking an underlying predisposition to RBD."

To conduct this study, investigators reviewed records of patients consecutively diag
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
19-Jun-2006


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