Disturbance in brain’s internal clock may lead to depression and anxiety, says study

Disturbance in brain’s internal clock may lead to depression and anxiety, says study

Some people may wonder how do they wake up every day at the same time or how do they feel hungry at similar hours every day? Our brain has its own internal clock that sets up a routine and makes sure one follows it.

This brain clock, medically termed as circadian rhythms, is roughly a 24-hour cycle governing different body functions (physiological processes) of living organisms including human beings, animals, plants, fungi and cyanobacteria. Circadian rhythms play a significant role in defining the sleep timing and feeding patterns in all animals and human beings. This daily cycle observes clear patterns of processes including hormone production, brain wave activity, cell regeneration and other biological activities. Given the key roles this internal biological clock handles, there are potential harmful effects of this clock going wrong.

Disruption in circadian rhythms may cause despair and hopelessness

A  study aimed at studying the effect of disruption in the brain’s internal clock reported helplessness, behavioral despair and anxiety-like behavior in mice. The findings of the study, published online in Biological Psychiatry in December 2016, provide an interesting insight into how internal time keeping system of the brain can affect mood and mental health of humans.

The behavioral tests conducted on mice revealed that disturbing circadian rhythms in otherwise undisturbed animals may cause behaviors similar to human depression. The mice with altered circadian rhythms seemed to be less motivated to get away from uncomfortable situations, indicating a state of despair or hopelessness in the animal. The mice were also found to be avoiding brightly lit areas, which the researchers interpreted as a sign of anxiety-like behavior.

In addition, the mice experiencing reduced circadian rhythms gained more weight compared to normal mice, despite eating the same amount of food. This finding suggests a possible correlation between disrupted circadian rhythms and metabolic abnormalities observed in many depressed patients.

“We have long known that disruptions in circadian rhythms may contribute to depression, particularly in people at risk for major depression or bipolar disorder. This new study provides additional evidence implicating the Bmal1 gene in the relationship between these circadian rhythms and mood,” concluded Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.

A previous study, published in Bentham Science, had also supported the role of the biological clock in the development of depressive disorders including major unipolar depressive disorder (MDD). As per the researchers, Bmal1 is one of the master genes that drives circadian rhythms. Suppression of this gene due to any reason can lower the strength of the clock signals and lead to poor health outcomes. The results of all these studies can go a long way in exploring new depression treatment options targeting the circadian clock in humans.

Helping people with depression

Depression is one of the most common illnesses affecting Americans today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression causes nearly 800,000 suicides every year. It is a state of helplessness for both patients and the people around them.

Knowing the symptoms of depression can help caregivers offer help at the right time. While the triggers can be different for different people, observing the people with depression over the time can help family and friends recognize the signs early. People helping the patients need to be patient and at the same time be aware of how to offer support to the depressed. Depression patients may not acknowledge their disease and may be resistant to the treatment. Talking to them and making them realize that if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a whirlpool of other problems can prove effective in convincing them. Motivate the patient to take self-care steps including eating healthy meals at right times, getting adequate sleep and staying physically active.

Choosing the right treatment facility is an important factor in improving the treatment outcome in people with depression. It is important to see if the facility is equipped with adequate resources and professionals who can offer effective treatment. Keep a vigil on the symptoms of worsening depression, which may require immediate medical attention. Contact the experts at the Texas Depression Treatment Help for more information on depression treatment in Texas. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 to get details about depression disorders centers in Texas.