Excessive sleepiness and excessive hunger: when does it come to depression?

Excessive daytime sleepiness and excessive hunger may be frequent symptoms during a depressive episode. Specifically, in the presence of hypersomnia and hyperphagia, we can speak about depression with atypical manifestations (or atypical symptoms). The atypical symptoms of depression, in fact, include increased appetite, weight gain and a feeling of heaviness in legs.
Unlike insomnia, excessive sleepiness is an often overlooked symptom as it does not alarm patients. Daytime sleepiness, on the other hand, is an important symptom and must be treated promptly because it may influence the course of the depression being directly correlated to the severity of the pathology. This also emerges from the results of a study carried out on 67 patients diagnosed with depression. Depression severity was assessed by the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) while hypersomnia was investigated using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). ESS scores were positively correlated with HDRS scores (Mume, 2010).
In patients with bipolar depression the atypical symptoms are very frequent.
A search was carried out on 70 patients diagnosed with recurrent unipolar depressive episode, 54 patients diagnosed with depressive episode in a bipolar disorder and 58 patients diagnosed with chronic depression. Half of the patients had a normal body weight while the other half was overweight or obese (with BMI> 25). The atypical symptoms of depression were more frequent in women.

Video entitled “7 signs of depression“, uploaded on youtube by Psych2Go on 2019,signs 29th of march:

Patients with bipolar depression had more severe hypersomnia (compared to the group of patients with chronic depression). Heaviness in legs was also more severe in the group of bipolar patients than in the group of patients with recurrent depression and chronic depression. In overweight and obese patients the severity of atypical symptoms increased proportionally with the body mass index (BMI) and the severity of the depression. Therefore, all symptoms were significantly more severe in patients with bipolar disorder (Buzuk et al., 2016).
Contact a specialist to identify and treat the symptoms in a timely manner to avoid a reduction in functioning in daily activities and an increase in body weight.

References:

Buzuk G et al. Depression with atypical features in various kinds of affective disorders. [Article in English, Polish].(2016). Psychiatr Pol. 50(4): 827-838.

Mume CO. Excessive daytime sleepiness among depressed patients (2010). Libyan J Med. 5(1): 4626.

Tiziana Corteccioni

About Tiziana Corteccioni

Tiziana Corteccioni

MD, Specialist in Psychiatry, Psychotherapist, Cognitive behavioral therapist.

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