Sleep deprivation could trigger onset of depression and anxiety

Sleep deprivation can trigger the onset of mental disorders like depression or anxiety, according to a new study.

Scientists from the United States have discovered that poor levels of sleep often creates activity in the brain similar to that which occurs during anxiety attacks.

The researchers, based at the University of California, Berkeley, found traces of this activity in many members of their sample group after just one poor night's sleep. According to, no members of the sample group were recognised to show symptoms of a serious anxiety disorder before the experiment started.

It has long been accepted that sleep deprivation is a symptom of mental disorders such as depression. However, this new research is thought to be the first to prove that these sorts of disorders can be a by-product of poor sleep. This information could be of use to those in counselling careers, who are regularly tasked with searching for possible causes of mental disorders in their patients.

In an interview with, the study's lead author Matthew Walker concluded: "This discovery illustrates how important sleep is to out mental health. It also emphasises the intimate relationship between sleep and psychiatric disorders, both from a cause and a treatment perspective."