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Circadian rhythm linked to depression

Mice show changes in their circadian rhythm and activity several months before they develop depressive behaviour.

“This indicates that such changes could predict the development of depression later in life,” says Sandra Ceccatelli, professor of neurotoxicology at the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet.

In order to investigate whether this also applies to humans, she is currently conducting a study of patients in which their activity is measured with the help of an actigraph, a small instrument that sits on the wrist and measures activity. She is also investigating the levels of what are known as clock genes, which control the circadian rhythm, in skin cells from patients.

“If our hypothesis is correct, we are going to better understand how depression arises and perhaps also be able to determine who will respond to a certain antidepressant drug,” she says.