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Disrupted body clock may cause mood disorders, depression
16 May 2018, 10:47 | Melissa Porter
Disruption to your body clock can heighten the risk of mental health problems
People who were active during the night or inactive during the day were 6 percent to 10 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder than those who followed a normal cycle of being active during the day and switching to rest at night. And these results held true when adjusting for age, sex, lifestyle, education, body mass index and childhood trauma, the researchers say. The disruptions were measured by an accelerometer worn on the subjects' wrists, tracking their levels of activity daily.
"The study reinforces 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 added.
Our internal body clocks regulate every biological process in our bodies such as eating, our blood pressure, and sleeping. The brain's internal time-keeping system anticipates environmental changes and adapts itself to the appropriate time of day.
Individuals with a history of disrupting their body's natural rhythm working night shifts, for example, or suffering repeated jetlag also tended to have a higher lifetime risk of mood disorders, feelings of unhappiness, and cognitive problems, the researchers found.
For the new study, an worldwide team led by University of Glasgow psychologist Laura Lyall analysed data - taken from the UK Biobank, one of the most complete long-term health surveys ever done - on 91,105 people aged 37 to 73. They occur in plants, animals and throughout biology, and are fundamental for maintaining health in humans, particularly mental health and wellbeing.
A lower circadian amplitude denotes less distinction, in terms of activity levels, between active and rest periods of the day.
Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Aiden Doherty from the University of Oxford in the UK agrees: "Although the UK Biobank is one of the most important medical resources worldwide, the study population (median age at baseline of 62 years, IQR 54-68 years) is not ideal to examine the causes of mental health, given that 75% of disorders start before the age of 24 years. That's not a big surprise", said Dr. Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and a leading author on the study.
Prof Smith said this study is important on a global scale 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".
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