Treating Circadian Rhythm Disruption in Bipolar Disorder


Purpose of Review

Disruptions in circadian rhythms are believed to underlie the illness course of bipolar disorder (BD). This review evaluates recent studies on the treatment of circadian dysfunction in BD.

Recent Findings

Targeted social rhythm therapy may be useful for bipolar depression though some studies suggest that a non-targeted psychosocial or pharmacological intervention may be just as efficacious. Lithium holds potential for addressing circadian dysfunction in BD. Blue-blocking therapy may be useful for mania and midday bright light therapy may relieve depression.


Psychosocial, pharmacological, and light-based approaches are promising avenues for treating circadian dysfunction in BD.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alexandra K. Gold.

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Conflict of Interest

Alexandra K. Gold receives research support from the National Institute of Mental Health (F31MH116557).

Gustavo Kinrys has received research support from Astra-Zeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Cephalon, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly & Company, Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., GlaxoSmithkline, Sanofi/Synthelabo, Sepracor Inc., Pfizer Inc., UCB Pharma, and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Grant R01 HS019371–01, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. He has been an advisor or consultant for Astra-Zeneca, Cephalon, Eli Lilly & Company, Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., GlaxoSmithkline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Pfizer Inc., Sepracor Inc., UCB Pharma, and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. Dr. Kinrys has been a speaker for Astra-Zeneca, Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., GlaxoSmithkline, Sepracor Inc., and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.

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Gold, A.K., Kinrys, G. Treating Circadian Rhythm Disruption in Bipolar Disorder. Curr Psychiatry Rep 21, 14 (2019).

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  • Bipolar disorder
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Social rhythm therapy
  • Light therapy