The vigilance regulation model of affective disorders and ADHD

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Abstract

Highlights

▽ VIGALL is an EEG-based tool to assess regulation of vigilance (“brain arousal”). ▽ Mania is typically associated with unstable, depression with hyperstable vigilance. ▽ Symptoms in mania and ADHD have a vigilance stabilising function. ▽ The antimanic effect of stimulants is presently studied in an international RCT. ▽ The pathogenetic role of LC hyperactivity in depression is discussed.

According to the recently proposed vigilance model of affective disorders (vigilance in the sense of “brain arousal”), manic behaviour is partly interpreted as an autoregulatory attempt to stabilise vigilance by creating a stimulating environment, and the sensation avoidance and withdrawal in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is seen as an autoregulatory reaction to tonically increased vigilance. Indeed, using a newly developed EEG-based algorithm, hyperstable vigilance was found in MDD, and the contrary, with rapid drops to sleep stages, in mania. Furthermore, destabilising vigilance (e.g. by sleep deprivation) triggers (hypo)mania and improves depression, whereas stabilising vigilance, e.g. by prolonged sleep, improves mania. ADHD and mania have common symptoms, and the unstable vigilance might be a common pathophysiology. There is even evidence that psychostimulants might ameliorate both ADHD and mania. Hyperactivity of the noradrenergic system could explain both the high vigilance level in MDD and, as recently argued, anhedonia and behavioural inhibition. Interestingly, antidepressants and electroconvulsions decrease the firing rate of neurons in the noradrenergic locus coeruleus, whereas many antimanic drugs have opposite effects.

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