Body clock disruption is common in mental health diseases

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists from the University of California, Irvine found that anxiety, autism, schizophrenia and Tourette syndrome each have their own distinguishing characteristics, but one factor bridging these and most other mental disorders is body clock disruption.

They hypothesize that body clock disruption is a psychopathology factor shared by a broad range of mental illnesses and that research into its molecular foundation could be key to unlocking better therapies and treatments.

Circadian rhythms regulate our bodies’ physiological activity and biological processes during each solar day. Synchronized to a 24-hour light/dark cycle, circadian rhythms influence when we normally need to sleep and when we’re awake.

They also manage other functions such as hormone production and release, body temperature maintenance and consolidation of memories.

Effective, nondisrupted operation of this natural timekeeping system is necessary for the survival of all living organisms.

Circadian rhythms are intrinsically sensitive to light/dark cues, so they can be easily disrupted by light exposure at night, and the level of disruption appears to be sex-dependent and changes with age.

One example is a hormonal response to body clock disruption felt by pregnant women; both the mother and the fetus can experience clinical effects from body clock disruption and chronic stress.

Age also is an important factor, as body clock disruption can affect neurodevelopment in early life in addition to leading to the onset of aging-related mental disorders among the elderly.

The team added that if the experiments were conducted in a systematic way with respect to age, sex, and brain areas to investigate circadian molecular rhythmicity before and during disease progression, it would help the mental health research community identify potential biomarkers, causal relationships, and novel therapeutic targets and avenues.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about the key to depression recovery, and mental illness strongly linked to high blood pressure, heart rate problem.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about complementary treatments for depression, and results showing vegetarian diet quality can affect mental health.

The research was published in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry and conducted by Pierre Baldi et al.

Copyright © 2022 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.