While important changes in circadian rhythms take place during adolescence and young adulthood, it is unclear how circadian profiles during this period relate to emerging mental disorders. This study aimed to: (i) characterise morningness-eveningness preference in young people with primary anxiety, depression, bipolar or psychotic disorders as compared to healthy controls, and (ii) to investigate associations between morningness-eveningness preference and the severity of psychiatric symptoms. Four hundred and ninety-six males and females aged between 12 and 30 years were divided into five groups according to primary diagnosis. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale were administered by a research psychologist and participants completed the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and the Horne-Östberg Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (ME). ME scores were significantly lower (i.e. higher levels of "eveningness") in all patient diagnosis subgroups compared to the control group. The psychosis group had higher ME scores than the depression and anxiety groups. Compared to the control group, the anxiety, depression and bipolar subgroups had a significantly higher proportion of "moderate evening" types, with a similar trend for the psychosis group. The proportion of "extreme evening" types was significantly higher in the anxiety and depression subgroups than in the control group. Lower ME scores correlated with worse psychological distress in males from the bipolar group. Lower ME scores correlated with higher depression severity in females with depression and in males with bipolar disorder. These results suggest that young persons with various mental disorders, especially those with affective disorders, present with a stronger "eveningness" preference and higher rates of evening chronotypes than healthy controls from the same age group. Later chronotypes were generally associated with worse psychological distress and symptoms severity. These associations were modulated by sex and primary diagnosis.
- bipolar disorder
- morningness-eveningness preference
- psychiatric symptoms
- psychotic disorders