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. 1992 Jul;43(1):43-53.
doi: 10.1016/0165-1781(92)90140-x.

Sleep in Spousally Bereaved Elders With Subsyndromal Depressive Symptoms


Sleep in Spousally Bereaved Elders With Subsyndromal Depressive Symptoms

R E Pasternak et al. Psychiatry Res. .


Spousal bereavement in late life frequently leads to major depression. However, many people suffer from "minor" depressive symptoms that entail considerable suffering even in the absence of syndromal major depression. We describe longitudinal electroencephalographic (EEG) sleep and clinical evaluations in 14 elderly, recently spousally bereaved subjects who were experiencing subsyndromal depressive symptoms. While subjects did not meet diagnostic criteria for syndromal major depression, they did have mildly elevated scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (mean = 10.6, range = 8-16) at the time of initial sleep studies (T1), which were carried out, on average, 5.5 months after loss of the spouse. Entry into the study was limited to volunteers who did not have a personal history of major depression or psychiatric disorder. Twelve subjects underwent followup clinical and EEG sleep evaluations (T2), 9.9 months after spousal loss. Fifty percent continued to show depressive symptoms at 6-month followup. Test-retest comparisons of sleep and clinical measures were made with a group of sex- and age-matched control subjects who were neither bereaved nor depressed. EEG sleep measures did not significantly correlate with time from loss of spouse, severity of depressive symptoms, or subjective sleep quality. Analysis of variance with repeated measures detected a significant group X time interaction effect for delta sleep ratio (decreasing in controls but increasing in the bereaved).

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