Molecular basis for the association between depression and circadian rhythm

Ci Ji Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2019 Apr-Jun;31(2):67-72. doi: 10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_181_18.


Depression is a life-threatening psychiatric disorder and a major public health concern worldwide with an incidence of 5% and a lifetime prevalence of 15%-20%. It is related with the social disability, decreased quality of life, and a high incidence of suicide. Along with increased depressive cases, health care cost in treating patients suffering from depression has also surged. Previous evidence have reported that depressed patients often exhibit altered circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythm involves physical, mental, and behavioral changes in a daily cycle, and is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus in responding to light and darkness in an environment. Circadian rhythm disturbance in depressive patients causes early morning waking, sleep disturbances, diurnal mood variation, changes of the mean core temperature, endocrine release, and metabolic functions. Many medical interventions have been used to treat depression; however, several adverse effects are noted. This article reviews the types, causes of depression, mechanism of circadian rhythm, and the relationship between circadian rhythm disturbance with depression. Pharmaceutical and alternative interventions used to treat depressed patients are also discussed.

Keywords: Antidepressants; Chronotherapy; Circadian rhythm; Clock genes; Depression.

Publication types

  • Review