Dr. Douglas Berger in Tokyo Comments on “Psychiatric Disorders from No Sleep” by Nikhil Swaminathan

Tokyo psychiatrist, Dr. Douglas Berger, comments on “Psychiatric Disorders from No Sleep” by Nikhil Swaminathan, January 1, 2008, Scientific American:

The January issue described research on 14 sleep-deprived subjects who developed “psychological disturbances” of rapidly changeable feelings of being upset, annoyed, and giddy, but titled the article, “Psychiatric Disorders from No Sleep?”. If you do not sleep or eat you will have normal psycho-physiologic responses from these necessary biologic functions, we do not need to incur a risk for Psychiatric Disorders, and none of the symptoms described would fit the currently accepted criteria of a psychiatric disorder. While we still don’t know if sleep deprivation may indeed increase the risk for a psychiatric disorder, this study in only 14 subjects sleep-deprived for only 35 hours proves little about the risk of psychiatric disorder from sleep deprivation, and may lead those suffering from these illnesses to the dangerous conclusion that they only need to take a soporific instead of an anti-depressant, anti-manic, or anti-psychotic medication.

Douglas M. Berger, M.D., Ph.D.

U.S. Board-Certified Psychiatrist

Tokyo, Japan

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