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Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2011;7:297-319. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104550.

Sleep and circadian functioning: critical mechanisms in the mood disorders?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720-1650, USA.


Evidence for the importance of sleep in the mood disorders has mushroomed over the past decade. Among adolescents and adults with a mood disorder, sleep disturbance is a risk factor for episodes, can contribute to relapse, has an adverse impact on emotion regulation, is critical for cognitive functioning, compromises health, and may contribute to substance use comorbidity and suicidality. This evidence has triggered a shift away from viewing sleep disturbance as an epiphenomenon, toward viewing sleep disturbance as an important but under-recognized mechanism in the multifactorial cause and maintenance of the mood disorders. Because the biology underpinning the sleep and circadian system is an open system, readily influenced by inputs from the environment, sleep in the mood disorders represents a unique and exciting domain for interdisciplinary research across behavioral, social, cognitive, and neurobiological levels of explanation. Together, the accumulated evidence has informed a range of novel, powerful, simple, and inexpensive treatments with potential for massive improvements to public health, including improving quality of life, reducing length and severity of episodes, and reducing the risk of subsequent episodes in the large number of individuals who suffer from mood disorders.

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