Circadian Rhythm disruption associated with mood disorders

Disruption of daily rhythms linked to mental health problems

A newly published study, which examined more than 91,000 people, linked a disrupted internal clock (being active at night or inactive during the day) with the development of mood disorders.

The scientists studied people's circadian rhythms, which control functions such as immune systems, sleep patterns, and the release of hormones, to measure the daily rest-activity rhythms, also known as the relative amplitude.

"While our findings can't tell us about the direction of causality, they reinforce the idea that mood disorders are associated with disturbed circadian rhythms, and we provide evidence that altered rest-activity rhythms are also linked to worse subjective well-being and cognitive ability", Lyall said.

Body clock rhythms govern fundamental physiological and behavioural functions - from body temperatures to eating habits - in nearly all living beings.

A lower circadian amplitude denotes less distinction, in terms of activity levels, between active and rest periods of the day. People with increased nighttime activity, decreased daytime activity, or both were more likely to have symptoms of major depression or bipolar disorder.

A new study by the University of Glasgow has found a disrupted 24-hour body clock, typically caused by things like checking Facebook at midnight or getting up to make a cup of tea in the middle of the night, could increase your risk of depression and bipolar disorder.

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"Given that most mental health disorders begin during adolescence, more longitudinal studies in younger populations might improve our understanding of causal mechanisms, and help find new ways to predict mood disorders and fine-tune treatments".

This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes. They are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, and integrity of circadian rhythms is particularly important for mental health and wellbeing.

"And it's likely they affect each other in a circular fashion", she added.

For the study, over 91,000 adults in the United Kingdom, between the age group of 37-73 years, were asked to participate in the study.

"The circadian system changes throughout life". "And from my point of view as a psychiatrist, I think it's probably under-recognized in psychiatry how important healthy circadian function is, but it's an area that we're trying to develop".

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