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Increased Activity and Phase Delay in Circadian Motility Rhythms in Geriatric Depression:  Preliminary Observations

Martin H. Teicher, MD, PhD; Janet M. Lawrence, MD; Natacha I. Barber; Seth P. Finklestein, MD; Harris R. Lieberman, PhD; Ross J. Baldessarini, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(10):913-917. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800340039005.
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• Locomotor activity levels and rhythms of eight hospitalized geriatric unipolar depressed patients (DSM-III criteria) were compared with those of eight healthy elderly controls in a similar environment. Activity was measured using a wristworn electronic activity monitor with solid-state memory. Depressed patients had a 29% higher mean total 24-hour activity level, with no change in circadian amplitude or frequency. Daily peak activity (acrophase) averaged 2.05 hours later in depressed patients, with no overlap between the groups. The degree of phase delay correlated significantly with the 4 PM postdexamethasone serum cortisol level. These tentative findings suggest that elderly unipolar depressed patients have prominent chronobiological disturbances in the modulation of activity levels and possibly other physiological processes. These differ strikingly from reported disturbances in younger or bipolar depressed patients.

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