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Chronotype and Mental Health: Recent Advances

  • Sleep Disorders (P Gehrman, Section Editor)
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Abstract

Purpose of Review

Evening chronotype is increasingly recognized as a correlate of, and perhaps a contributor to, mental illness. The current review evaluates recent evidence for the association between chronotype and mental illness and putative mechanisms underlying the association, while highlighting methodological advances and areas of research that are relatively under-examined in the literature.

Recent Findings

While evening chronotype is most consistently associated with severity of mood disorder symptoms, emerging evidence implicates evening chronotype as a transdiagnostic correlate of substance use severity, anxiety symptoms, attentional difficulties, and maladaptive behaviors such as aggression. Longitudinal studies point to the possibility that evening chronotype precedes problematic substance use, depression, and anxiety. Neural processes related to reward and affective regulation may underlie associations between evening chronotype and illness.

Summary

The literature on chronotype and mental illness has evolved to (1) include associations with a broader range of psychiatric symptom profiles; (2) explore underlying mechanisms; and (3) expand on earlier research using objective measures and more sophisticated study designs. In addition to further mechanistic research, additional work is needed to examine the stability and key subcomponents of the chronotype construct, as well as more attention to pediatric and special populations. This research is needed to clarify the chronotype-mental health relationship, and to identify how, when, and what aspects of chronotype can be targeted via therapeutic interventions.

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Taylor, B.J., Hasler, B.P. Chronotype and Mental Health: Recent Advances. Curr Psychiatry Rep 20, 59 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-018-0925-8

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