Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Body clock disruption linked to depression

Body clock disruption linked to depression

Messing with the rhythm of one's internal body clock and sleep cycle may increase the risk of developing mood problems ranging from depression to bipolar disorder, scientists have found.

Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples.

To record their levels of activity, participants wore accelerometers for 7 days between 2013 and 2015.

For the large study, the researchers examined activity data of 91,105 people from the United Kingdom who were aged between 37 to 73 years.

"Our findings indicate an association between altered daily circadian rhythms and mood disorders and wellbeing", says author Dr Laura Lyall from the University of Glasgow, UK. People with less of a distinction between active and resting periods scored a lower amplitude, either because they were not active enough during while they were awake or too active in the hours intended for sleep.

Smith said, 'It's not just what you do at night, it's what you do during the day - trying to be active during the day and inactive in darkness, ' he said. Meanwhile, the findings of the study remained consistent even when controlling factors such as age, gender, education, lifestyle, and body mass index.

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Circadian rhythms are variations in physiology and behaviour that recur every 24-hours, such as the sleep-wake cycle and daily patterns of hormone release.

For the study, researchers measured body clock disruption on 91, 000 middle aged people using wearable monitors.

They were also more likely to feel lonely and less happy. This information was linked to mental health questionnaires to assess symptoms of mental disorders and subjective wellbeing and cognitive function.

"This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase the risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes". This can be due to reduced activity during waking periods or increased activity during rest periods. "Hopefully, that will protect a lot of people from mood disorders". "But equally important is a pattern of exposing yourself to sunshine and daylight in the morning and doing activity in the morning or midday so you can actually sleep properly". "However, these are observational associations and can not tell us whether mood disorders and reduced well-being cause disturbed rest-activity patterns, or whether disturbed circadian rhythmicity makes people vulnerable to mood disorders and poorer well-being".

"And it's likely they affect each other in a circular fashion", she added. "If you've got kids, you know that very young kids tend to be nocturnal", Smith said.

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