Antidepressants substantially affect basic REM sleep characteristics in narcolepsy-cataplexy patients

Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2015;36(5):430-3.


Objectives: Antidepressants substantially affect REM sleep characteristics and trigger manifestations of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in the general, non-narcoleptic, population. Antidepressants are also frequently administrated in an attempt to suppress cataplexy. We investigated the role of antidepressants in the development of RBD in narcolepsy with cataplexy (NC) patients.

Patients/methods: Seventy-five patients diagnosed with NC were assessed by a structured interview (focused on RBD manifestations and the use of antidepressants) and night video-polysomnography followed by the multiple sleep latency test.

Results: Of all 75 NC patients (36 male, 39 female; mean age 46.1±18.5 years), 34 cases had a history of antidepressant use (45.3%; 18 male, 16 female). In this antidepressant-positive group, 13 patients suffered from RBD (38.2%). Among antidepressant-naïve patients, only 5 subjects (12.2%) were diagnosed with RBD. Polysomnographic data showed significantly increased REM latency (p<0.01) and reduced percentage of REM sleep (p<0.01) in the antidepressant-positive group, as well as more periodic limb movements during sleep (p=0.01).

Conclusions: NC patients with a history of antidepressant use showed a three-fold higher occurrence of RBD in comparison to antidepressant-naïve patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcolepsy / chemically induced*
  • Narcolepsy / epidemiology
  • Narcolepsy / physiopathology*
  • Polysomnography
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder / chemically induced*
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep, REM / drug effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents