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Your Circadian Rhythm: What It Is And Why It Matters

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If you’ve ever read anything about how using your cell phone can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep or wondered why you get jet lagged when you travel, then you’ve spent at least a little time thinking about circadian rhythms. But what exactly are circadian rhythms, and why are they so important? It’s a big question with a lot to unpack.

Your Body’s Clock

A common way that scientists and writers describe your circadian rhythms is as your body’s internal or biological clock, and this is a good, basic description. Circadian rhythms consist of the many different bodily patterns that are tied to a 24-hour daily cycle

These are physical, mental, and even behavioral, and different organ systems have their own unique expressions of these cycles. These shifts, which are largely regulated by exposure to light, especially sunlight, are most notable to the individual as hunger signals and digestion, body temperature, and alertness or fatigue.

Circadian Rhythm Disruptions

Another important factor everyone should understand about circadian rhythms is that their disruption by outside forces can lead to serious health problems. Now, a few nights of fatigue due to jet lag aren’t serious, of course, but in the long-term, dysregulation can lead to serious illnesses. And conversely, disruptions in circadian rhythms can be a sign of an underlying disorder.

As the most outwardly obvious sign of your circadian rhythms daily progression, sleep may be the most widely researched of the daily biological cycles. For example, researchers have looked carefully at sleep apnea as a cause of serious health problems

Sleep apnea can be obstructive – meaning it’s caused by a physical blockage – or central – meaning the brain doesn’t send the signal to breathe during sleep; but in either case, it can prevent people from experiencing restful sleep, leading to significant health problems, including daytime sleepiness, problems with appetite regulation, and even an increased risk of heart disease and obesity.

Circadian Rhythms And Neurodegeneration

One of the most significant recent discoveries of note regarding circadian rhythms is the link between circadian rhythm dysfunction and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. In a study supported by the Brain Research Foundation, Dr. Ravi Allada explored the function of the circadian clock gene in fruit fly models, specifically examining its neuroprotective role. When there is a mutation in this gene, his lab concluded, the body is less able to protect itself against neurodegeneration.

Circadian Rhythms And Cancer

Another emerging area of research related to circadian rhythms is in regard to cancer risk. When the body’s normal rhythms, which include those involved in immune system function, are no longer working properly, it’s more likely that normal cellular repair systems will fail. This can lead to dangerous mutations; the body may also be less able to naturally kill cancer cells when there is a circadian rhythm disorder present.

There are many different illnesses directly and indirectly linked to circadian rhythm disorders, and work addressing these issues is still in the early stages. What has become clear, however, is that the more we know about our vital internal rhythms and how to maintain them, the better equipped we are to protect our overall health.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Health

How to Know if You’re Depressed

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Are you depressed or just feeling down? Sometimes it’s hard to recognise where we sit on the depression scale. If you’re constantly experiencing feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness that can last for weeks, months, or even years; you may benefit from seeing an expert psychologist in Melbourne. This article should hopefully shine some light on the symptoms of depression, how to get help, and where to find support.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression is often defined as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest”. It’s more than just a bout of the blues, and it’s not simply a case of feeling sad after experiencing something upsetting. Rather, it’s an ongoing low mood that interferes with your everyday life and prevents you from enjoying activities that you used to love.

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or “empty”
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that you once enjoyed
  • Feeling hopeless, guilty, or worthless
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy levels
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Appetite changes or weight gain/loss
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How do I know if I’m depressed or just sad?

While it’s normal to feel sad from time to time, you may be suffering from depression if these feelings last for more than two weeks and are interfering with your ability to live a normal life. Depression can also be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue and changes in appetite. If you’re unsure whether you’re depressed or just sad, it’s best to see a mental health professional for an assessment.

What causes depression and how can it be treated?

There is no single cause of depression, but it can be triggered by a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, hormones, and life events (such as trauma or loss). Depression is often treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In some cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) may also be recommended.

How can I help a loved one who is depressed?

If you think a loved one may be depressed, the best thing you can do is encourage them to see a mental health professional. You can also offer your support and understanding, and let them know that they are not alone. If you’re worried that they may be suicidal, it’s important to talk to them about it directly.

With the right help, depression can be treated and you can regain your lease on life. If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support.

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