Could REM sleep be a biological biomarker for anxiety disorders
Although interest in finding biological biomarkers for psychiatric illnesses has been longstanding, efforts to find biological biomarkers have not been very successful. It has been known for quite some time that most antidepressants suppress REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in depressed patients, normal controls and laboratory animals 1. Thus it is postulated that increased REM density could be a possible biological biomarker for depression 2. Several anti-depressant medications are FDA approved for anxiety disorders as well, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder, implying there may some commonality in the pathophysiology of depressive and anxiety disorders.
There is a relative paucity of articles looking at electroencephalographic sleep patterns in anxiety disorders. This review is an effort to summarize the REM sleep abnormalities in Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder. Further research is needed to clarify the relationship of REM sleep in anxiety disorders. Reference: 1. Steiger A, Kimura M: Wake and sleep EEG provide biomarkers in depression : J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Mar;44(4):242-52. 2. Pillai V, Kalmbach DA, Ciesla JA: A meta-analysis of electroencephalographic sleep in depression: evidence for genetic biomarkers. : Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Nov 15; 70(10):912-9.