What is it about?

The human body anticipates earth's light-dark cycle through a network of internal clocks (the circadian system). Disturbances of this fundamental biological network are, not surprisingly, associated with health problems. This paper provides the most extensive scholarly review to date of circadian disturbances in bipolar disorder.

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Why is it important?

This is the first scholarly review to critically consider the quality and coherence of findings in the literature as a whole. We conclude that, while there is a range of data pointing to circadian involvement in bipolar disorder, there has been a lack of replication across studies, and almost no consideration of the relationship between circadian findings at different levels of analysis.


Biology is complex. Biological analyses in mental health have the additional challenge that mental health problems are largely defined by self-report of internal states (like the moods of bipolar disorder), and there's no consensus on how to understand the relationships beteen all these dynamic phenomena. The exciting thing for me was working with a large expert team who understood circadian involvement in bipolar disorder from many different perspectives/methods. First author Michael McCarthy (UCSD) and I had a great time integrating these divergent perspectives. The paper calls for conceptual and empirical work towards a multi-level account that includes the findings on gene expression, system function, behaviour and cognition.

Swinburne University of Technology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of circadian rhythm disruption in bipolar disorder: A critical multi‐disciplinary literature review and agenda for future research from the ISBD task force on chronobiology, Bipolar Disorders, December 2021, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/bdi.13165.
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