Living in areas with less sun may increase your risk of OCD

July 10, 2018, Binghamton University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Living at higher latitudes, where there is also less sunlight, could result in a higher prevalence rate of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

"The results of this project are exciting because they provide additional evidence for a new way of thinking about OCD," said Meredith Coles, professor of psychology at Binghamton University. "Specifically, they show that living in areas with more sunlight is related to lower rates of OCD."

To compile their data, Coles and her research team read through many papers that addressed OCD prevalence rates in certain places and then recorded the latitudes of each location.

Individuals with OCD commonly report not being able to fall asleep until later than desired. Often times, they will then sleep in very late in order to compensate for that lost sleep, thus adopting a delayed sleep-wake pattern that may have adverse effects on their symptoms.

"This delayed sleep-wake pattern may reduce exposure to morning light, thereby potentially contributing to a misalignment between our internal biology and the external light-dark cycle," said Coles. "People who live in areas with less sunlight may have less opportunities to synchronize their circadian clock, leading to increased OCD symptoms."

Living at higher latitudes, where there is also less sunlight, could result in a higher prevalence rate of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to new research from Binghamton University, State University at New York. Credit: Binghamton University, State University at New York

This misalignment is more prevalent at higher latitudes—areas where there is reduced exposure to sunlight—which places people living in these locations at an increased risk for the development and worsening of OCD symptoms. These areas subsequently exhibit higher lifetime prevalence rates of the disorder than areas at lower latitudes.

While it is too soon to implement any specific treatment plans based on this new information, future studies are in the works to test a variety of treatment methods that address sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions.

"First, we are looking at relations between sleep timing and OCD symptoms repeatedly over time in order to begin to think about causal relationships," said Coles. "Second, we are measuring circadian rhythms directly by measuring levels of melatonin and having people wear watches that track their activity and rest periods. Finally, we are conducting research to better understand how sleep timing and OCD are related."

Additionally, the team of researchers hopes that further study exploring exposure to could help develop new treatment recommendations that would benefit individuals with OCD.

The paper, "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Prevalence Increases With Latitude," was published in the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

Explore further: People who go to bed late have less control over OCD symptoms

More information: Meredith E. Coles et al, Obsessive compulsive disorder prevalence increases with latitude, Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.jocrd.2018.04.001

Related Stories

People who go to bed late have less control over OCD symptoms

June 20, 2017
A late bedtime is associated with lower perceived control of obsessive thoughts, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

People who sleep less than eight hours a night more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety

January 4, 2018
Sleeping less than the recommended eight hours a night is associated with intrusive, repetitive thoughts like those seen in anxiety or depression, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of ...

Don't worry, be happy: Just go to bed earlier

December 4, 2014
When you go to bed, and how long you sleep at a time, might actually make it difficult for you to stop worrying. So say Jacob Nota and Meredith Coles of Binghamton University in the US, who found that people who sleep for ...

Moving light-dark exposure could reduce disruption faced by night shift workers

March 28, 2018
New research published in The Journal of Physiology shows that our brain clock can be shifted by light exposure, potentially to align it with night shift patterns. It highlights that a 'one size fits all' approach to managing ...

New clinical guideline to help clinicians treat circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders

October 14, 2015
A new clinical practice guideline published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides clinicians with updated recommendations for the treatment of intrinsic circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (CRSWDs).

The rhythms of the night?

April 30, 2018
New research published in The Journal of Physiology has illuminated the effects of night-time light exposure on internal body clock processes. This is important for helping those who have poor quality sleep, such as shift ...

Recommended for you

The connection between alcoholism and depression

September 21, 2018
Alcoholism and depression often go hand-in-hand.

Even toddlers weigh risks, rewards when making choices

September 21, 2018
Every day, adults conduct cost-benefit analyses in some form for decisions large and small, economic and personal: Bring a lunch or go out? Buy or rent? Remain single or start a family? All are balances of risk and reward.

Early warning sign of psychosis detected

September 21, 2018
Brains of people at risk of psychosis exhibit a pattern that can help predict whether they will go on to develop full-fledged schizophrenia, a new Yale-led study shows. The findings could help doctors begin early intervention ...

Quitting junk food produces similar withdrawal-type symptoms as drug addiction

September 20, 2018
If you plan to try and quit junk food, expect to suffer similar withdrawal-type symptoms—at least during the initial week—like addicts experience when they attempt to quit using drugs.

In depression the brain region for stress control is larger

September 20, 2018
Although depression is one of the leading psychiatric disorders in Germany, its cause remains unclear. A recent study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, Germany, found ...

American girls read and write better than boys

September 20, 2018
As early as the fourth grade, girls perform better than boys on standardized tests in reading and writing, and as they get older that achievement gap widens even more, according to research published by the American Psychological ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.