Background: This is a report of a clinical follow-up study (10-15 years later as young adults) of adolescent major depressives and normal control subjects. Polysomnographic data were obtained during the original study period when the subjects were adolescent (time 1). With clinical follow-up (time 2) assessments in hand, our objective was to ascertain whether there were any premorbid polysomnographic signs associated with depression during adolescence.
Methods: Based upon initial (during adolescence) and follow-up clinical assessments (as adults), new subject groupings were generated: depression-free normal subjects and original normal subjects who experienced a depressive episode during the follow-up period (latent depressives). Suicidality and recurrence of depression were also examined. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to analyze group differences in sleep measures and logistic regression for predicting three outcomes: lifetime depression, lifetime suicidality, and recurrence.
Results: Comparison of the depression-free normal subjects, the latent depressives, and the original major depressives revealed significant differences for sleep latency and sleep period time. Comparing all lifetime depressives (original major depressives and the latent depressives) to depression-free normal subjects revealed significantly more stages 3 and 4 combined (ST34) sleep and greater sleep period times among the depressives. An analysis involving the presence or absence of suicidality revealed no overall significant differences between the groups. Comparison of the lifetime depressives grouped by nonrecurrent and recurrent depressive course to the depression-free normal subjects revealed significant difference for sleep period time. Using logistic regression, we found that a longer sleep latency and sleep period time significantly predicted lifetime depression. Gender, ST34 sleep, and an interaction term for ST34 sleep and REM latency significantly predicted lifetime suicidality.
Conclusions: There was evidence of premorbid sleep abnormalities during adolescence. A general pattern of sleep disruption around sleep onset and during the first 100 min of the sleep period and overall sleep was evident among the major and lifetime depressives, involving sleep latency (initial insomnia), sleep period time (hypersomnia), REM latency, and slow-wave sleep. This adds to the body of literature that highlights the importance of the first 100 min of the sleep period in depression.