In depression, symptoms range from loss of motivation and energy to suicidal thoughts. Moreover, in depression alterations might be also observed in the sleep-wake cycle and in the daily rhythms of hormonal (e.g., cortisol, melatonin) secretion.
Both, the sleep-wake cycle and hormonal rhythms, are regulated by the internal biological clock within the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Therefore, a dysregulation of the internal mechanism of the SCN might lead in the disturbance of temporal physiology and depression. Hence, circadian symptoms in mood disorders can be used as important biomarkers for the prevention and treatment of depression. Disruptions of daily rhythms in physiology and behavior are also observed in animal models of depression, giving thus an important tool of research for the understanding of the circadian mechanisms implicated in mood disorders. This review discusses the alterations of daily rhythms in depression, and how circadian perturbations might lead in mood changes and depressive-like behavior in humans and rodents respectively. The use of animal models with circadian disturbances and depressive-like behaviors will help to understand the central timing mechanisms underlying depression, and how treating the biological clock(s) it may be possible to improve mood.