Aging, circadian rhythms and depressive disorders: a review

Inês Campos Costa, Hugo Nogueira Carvalho, Lia Fernandes

Onderzoeksoutput: Scientific review

64 Citaten (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Aging is typically associated with impairing behavioral patterns that are frequently and inappropriately seen as normal. Circadian rhythm changes and depressive disorders have been increasingly proposed as the two main overlapping and interpenetrating changes that take place in older age. This study aims to review the state of the art on the subject concerning epidemiology, pathophysiological mechanism, clinical findings and relevance, as well as available treatment options.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A nonsystematic review of all English language PubMed articles published between 1995 and December 2012 using the terms "circadian rhythms", "mood disorders", "depression", "age", "aging", "elderly" and "sleep".

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Sleep disorders, mainly insomnia, and depression have been demonstrated to be highly co-prevalent and mutually precipitating conditions in the elderly population. There is extensive research on the pathophysiological mechanisms through which age conditions circadian disruption, being the disruption of the Melatonin system one of the main changes. However, research linking clearly and unequivocally circadian disruption and mood disorders is still lacking. Nonetheless, there are consistently described molecular changes on shared genes and also several proposed pathophysiological models linking depression and sleep disruption, with clinical studies also suggesting a bi-directional relationship between these pathologies. In spite of this suggested relation, clinical evaluation of these conditions in elderly patients consistently reveals itself rather complicated due to the frequently co-existing co-morbidities, some of them having been demonstrated to alter sleep and mood patters. This is the case of strokes, forms of dementia such as Alzheimer and Parkinson, several neurodegenerative disorders, among others. Although there are to the present no specific treatment guidelines, available treatment options generally base themselves on the premise that depression and sleep disturbances share a bidirectional relationship and so, the adoption of measures that address specifically one of the conditions will reciprocally benefit the other. Treatment options range from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Chronotherapy, and Light therapy, to drugs such as Melatonin/Melatonin agonists, antidepressants and sedatives.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)228-246
Aantal pagina's19
TijdschriftNeurodegenerative diseases
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
StatusPublished - 29 nov 2013


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