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October 1988

Increased Activity and Phase Delay in Circadian Motility Rhythms in Geriatric DepressionPreliminary Observations

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Teicher, Lawrence, and Baldessarini and Ms Barber) and Neurology (Dr Finklestein) and the Neuroscience Program (Drs Teicher, Lawrence, and Baldessarini and Ms Barber), Harvard Medical School, Boston; the Mailman Research Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass (Drs Teicher, Lawrence, and Baldessarini and Ms Barber); the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (Dr Finklestein); and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (Dr Lieberman).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(10):913-917. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800340039005

• 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.