Objective: Patients with depression may have altered thermoregulation, such as high nocturnal core temperatures, decreased daytime sweating and subjective complaints of nocturnal sweating. We sought to compare nocturnal sweating in depressed patients and non-depressed controls, and to assess the impact of REM sleep on sweat rates.
Method: Nocturnal sweat rate, nocturnal temperature and REM sleep were measured during the night in 9 controls and 8 depressed subjects; 7 depressed patients were assessed during recovery.
Results: The nocturnal temperature was significantly higher in depressed patients compared to controls, and decreased significantly with recovery. The nocturnal sweat rates of depressed patients did not differ significantly from those of controls, but decreased significantly with recovery. Analyses of sweat rates before, during and after REM sleep indicated a trend for the entire sample to show a decrease in sweat rates during REM.
Conclusion: The nocturnal sweating rates in the depressed patients suggest that impaired sweating is not the cause of the high nocturnal temperature commonly found in depressed patients.