Circadian and sleep wake disturbances in mood disorders


Even with appropriate pharmacological and psychological management, the occurrence of relapse in patients with mood disorders is high. The underlying mechanisms which lead to relapse in mood disorders are not known, and represent an important area of investigation for the development of additional management strategies and interventions to reduce the rate of relapse in these patients.

Both circadian disruption and sleep-wake disturbance have been widely reported to occur in mood disorders, and it has been hypothesised that inadequate resolution of these disturbances may contribute to an increased risk of relapse. Despite this, few studies have carefully evaluated alterations in the circadian of sleep-wake systems following commencement of pharmacological and/or psychological interventions to reduce the primary symptoms of mood disorders, nor the role that these two systems may play in the occurrence of subsequent relapses.


Professor Ian Hickie, Dr Rebecca Robillard

Research Location

Camperdown - Brain and Mind Centre

Program Type



Actigraphic assessment of sleep-wake behaviour in patients with bipolar disorder and depression
The aim of this study is to characterise and track sleep-wake behaviour in patients with mood disorders studied at various phases of illness. To get measures in the patients' natural environment, we are using actigraphy (ambulatory sleep-wake monitoring) and sleep logs over a 2 week period. We are currently extending this study to a follow up phase in order to assess the evolution of the sleep-wake cycle across the course of illness and treatment.

Sleep-wake interventions for patients with early-onset affective disorder
This research project aims to determine if the magnitude of circadian realignment following a circadian-based intervention program is associated with depressive symptoms improvement in individuals with early-onset depression. Before and after the treatment program, all participants will undergo structured psychiatric assessment, ambulatory sleep-wake monitoring and circadian rhythms measurements. The intervention program is based on a stepped-care model and includes both psychoeducation and pharmacotherapy.

Internal synchrony of circadian rhythms in mood disorders

Disruption of the intrinsic synchrony of circadian rhythms can lead to various physiological dysfunctions that may underpin many of the somatic symptoms so commonly reported by patients with mood disorders. In this study, we aim to investigate the phase relationship between the rhythms of endocrine secretion, core body temperature and the sleep-wake cycle in patients with mood disorders and how they may be linked with symptom severity.

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Sleep, chronobiology, circadian rhythms, mood, depression, bipolar disorder, youth, delayed sleep phase syndrome, course of illness, trial, psychology, pharmacotherapy

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1556

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