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Depression as chronobiological illness

, : Depression as chronobiological illness. Neuropsychopharmacologia Hungarica 11(2): 69-81

Chronobiological problems are always present as aetiological or pathoplastic conditions almost in all psychiatric disorders and considered as the greatest contributors to the mood and sleep disorders associated problems. The present review summarise the recent advances in the chronobiology research from the point of the clinician with particular emphasis on the psychobiology and pharmacotherapy of the depression. Human behaviour builds up from different length of circadian, ultradian and seasonal rhytms, strictly controlled by a hierarchical organisation of sub-cellullar, cellular, neuro-humoral and neuro-immunological clock systems. These internal clock systems are orchestrated at molecular level by certain clock genes and on the other hand--at neuro-humoral level--by the effect of the sleep hormone, melatonine, produced by the neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Beside the biological factors, social interactions are also considered as important regulators of the biological clock systems. The pacemaker centers of the SCN receive efferents from the serotoninergic raphe nuclei in order to regulate stress responses and neuroimmunological functions. The direction and the level of the chronobiological desynchronisation could be totally divergent in the case of the different affective disorders. Different chronobiological interventions are required therefore in the case of the advanced and delayed sleep disorders. Sleeping disorders are considered as the most recognised signs of the chronobiological desynchronisation in depression, but these symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg, since other chronobiological symptoms could be present due to the hidden physiological abnormalities. The serum melatonine profile is considered to be characteristic to age, gender and certain neuropsychiatric disorders. The natural and synthetic agonist of the melatonine receptors could be used as chronobiotics. The recently marketed agomelatine with a highly selective receptor binding profile (MT1 and MT2 agonism and 5HT2C antagonism) targets the desynchronised circadian rhytm in affective disorders and it has mainly antidepressive effect. Among the non-pharmacological chronobiological interventions, the different forms of the sleep deprivation, light and social rhytm therapies could offer alternative treatment options for the clinician.


PMID: 19827314

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