In an exciting new discovery that might help point the way to fresh treatments for depression, scientists have discovered that sleep deprivation [in this case, 12 hours without rest] can temporarily address depression in human beings, as much as 70% of the time.
While this might not sound like a terribly high percentage, it is more successful than most prescription treatments for depression that are now on the market.
And best of all, the process is already at work in your body.
Obviously this is not a long term solution, because the beneficial effects disappear with sleep, however it is a fascinating study with repercussions regarding the state of modern research into the causes of and solutions for long term depression.
The process begins with glial cells in the brain called astrocytes. While you are awake, they release a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine gradually builds up over the course of your day, triggering neuronal receptors, and this buildup is what you experience as you begin to feel sleepy.
But that same receptor that causes your lids to droop also addresses the intense fatique, feelings of worthlessness and despair that is depression.
Doctors discovered this by triggering adenosine receptors in the brains of mice that had been bred to be innately depressed. This further confirms that life as a lab rat really sucks, however it also points to a concrete target for new pharmaceutical research on humans: the adenosine receptor. And best of all, triggering these receptors does not make a human or a mouse sleepy.