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Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jan;62(1):101-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.08.020. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Circadian rhythms and depression: human psychopathology and animal models.

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Dept. of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.


Most organisms (including humans) developed daily rhythms in almost every aspect of their body. It is not surprising that rhythms are also related to affect in health and disease. In the present review we present data that demonstrate the evidence for significant interactions between circadian rhythms and affect from both human studies and animal models research. A number of lines of evidence obtained from human and from animal models research clearly demonstrate relationships between depression and circadian rhythms including (1) daily patterns of depression; (2) seasonal affective disorder; (3) connections between circadian clock genes and depression; (4) relationship between sleep disorders and depression; (5) the antidepressant effect of sleep deprivation; (6) the antidepressant effect of bright light exposure; and (7) the effects of antidepressant drugs on sleep and circadian rhythms. The integration of data suggests that the relationships between the circadian system and depression are well established but the underlying biology of the interactions is far from being understood. We suggest that an important factor hindering research into the underlying mechanisms is the lack of good animal models and we propose that additional efforts in that area should be made. One step in that direction could be the attempt to develop models utilizing diurnal animals which might have a better homology to humans with regard to their circadian rhythms. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Anxiety and Depression'.

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