Antidepressants linked to sleep disorders in mentally ill

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 September, 2008, 12:00am

Antidepressants taken by mentally ill patients might make them more prone to sleep disorders.

A Chinese University study, published in the US-based Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that parasomnia - a group of sleep disorders - was more common in psychiatric patients than the general population.

Abut 1,200 psychiatric patients attending the Li Ka Shing Specialist Clinic at Prince of Wales Hospital were studied from 2006 to 2007.

The study found that 8.5 per cent of psychiatric patients were prone to sleepwalking, compared with 4 per cent in the general population.

Team leader Wing Yun-kwok, a professor of psychiatry, said: 'Most of the patients were not fully aware of the attacks or did not reveal the problems to their doctors.'

Some patients reported sleeprelated injuries and violence to themselves and bed partners, he said.

Joyce Lam Siu-ping, one of the researchers and a resident specialist in psychiatry at Sha Tin Hospital, said the study found a link between the sleeping disorder and medicines.

'For example, some older types of antidepressants and use of hypnotics are more likely associated with sleepwalking and sleep-related eating disorders,' she said. 'For sleep behavioural disorder, some new types of antidepressants are more likely to be associated.'

She said although the study found an association between sleep disorders and the medicines, it did not find that the medicines were 'directly causing the parasomnia'. She said there was a need to heighten the awareness of patients so they could seek help from their doctors.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi-aventis said the study found that parasomnia was associated with certain medications but a direct causal relationship had not been fully established.

'It is difficult to ascertain whether a particular instance is drug-induced, spontaneous in origin, or a result of the underlying disorder,' it said.

It reminded patients to take medicines only as directed by doctors.