Pretreatment REM sleep and subjective sleep quality distinguish depressed psychotherapy remitters and nonremitters

Daniel J. Buysse, Xin M. Tu, Christine R. Cherry, Amy E. Begley, Jeanne Kowalski, David J. Kupfer, Ellen Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Background: We compared pretreatment subjective and electroencephalographic sleep measures among depressed patients who remitted with psychotherapy alone and those who did not remit. Methods: Patients were 111 midlife women with recurrent major depressive disorder. Baseline psychiatric ratings and sleep studies were conducted prior to treatment with weekly interpersonal psychotherapy. Remission was defined as a score of ≤7 for 3 consecutive weeks on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Clinical and sleep measures were compared between remitters (n = 62) and nonremitters (n = 49) using t tests and random regression. Linear discriminant function analyses were used to categorize remitters and nonremitters on the basis of sleep measures. Results: Treatment nonremitters had significantly worse subjective sleep quality and significantly elevated phasic REM sleep as measured by multivariate and univariate analyses. The linear accumulation of REM activity during sleep occurred at a significantly higher rate in nonremitters than in remitters. Linear discriminant function analyses based on subjective sleep quality and REM activity correctly identified 68.3% of nonremitters and 68.5% of remitters. Conclusions: These findings highlight the role of subjective and REM sleep measures as correlates of short-term psychotherapy treatment response in major depressive disorder. Disturbed sleep may be a physiological indicator of increased limbic and brain stem arousal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1999


  • Depression
  • Psychotherapy
  • REM
  • Sleep
  • Treatment
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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