Mood disorders are serious diseases that affect a large portion of the population. There have been many hypotheses put forth over the years to explain the development of major depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders. These hypotheses include disruptions in monoamine transmission, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis function, immune function, neurogenesis, mitochondrial dysfunction, and neuropeptide signaling (to name a few). Nearly all people suffering from mood disorders have significant disruptions in circadian rhythms and the sleep/wake cycle. In fact, altered sleep patterns are one of the major diagnostic criteria for these disorders. Moreover, environmental disruptions to circadian rhythms, including shift work, travel across time zones, and irregular social schedules, tend to precipitate or exacerbate mood-related episodes. Recent studies have found that molecular clocks are found throughout the brain and body where they participate in the regulation of most physiological processes, including those thought to be involved in mood regulation. This review will summarize recent data that implicate the circadian system as a vital regulator of a variety of systems that are thought to play a role in the development of mood disorders.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder; circadian rhythms; depression; immune system; metabolism; neurogenesis.
Copyright © 2013 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.