Prevalence and correlates of REM sleep behaviour disorder in patients with major depressive disorder: a two-phase study


To investigate the prevalence and clinical correlates of video polysomnography (vPSG)-confirmed rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).


This is a clinic-based two-phase epidemiological study. In phase 1, patients with MDD were screened by a validated questionnaire, RBD Questionnaire-Hong Kong (RBDQ-HK). In phase 2, a subsample of both the screen-positive (RBDQ-HK >20) and screen–negative patients with MDD underwent further clinical and sleep assessment (vPSG) to confirm the diagnosis of RBD (MDD+RBD). Poststratification weighting method was used to estimate the prevalence of MDD+RBD. The total likelihood ratio and the probability of prodromal Parkinson’s disease (PD) were calculated from prodromal markers and risk factors, as per the Movement Disorder Society research criteria.


A total of 455 patients with MDD were screened (median age (IQR)=52.66 (15.35) years, 77.58% woman, 43.74% positive). Eighty-one patients underwent vPSG and 12 of them were confirmed MDD+RBD. The prevalence of MDD+RBD was estimated to be 8.77% (95% CI: 4.33% to 16.93%), with possibly male predominance. MDD+RBD were associated with colour vision and olfaction deficit and a higher probability for prodromal PD.


Almost 9% of patients with MDD in the psychiatric outpatient clinic has vPSG-confirmed RBD. Comorbid MDD+RBD may represent a subtype of MDD with underlying α-synucleinopathy neurodegeneration. Systematic screening of RBD symptoms and necessity of vPSG confirmation should be highlighted for capturing this MDD subtype with a view to enhance personalised treatment and future neuroprotection to prevent neurodegeneration.

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