Emotions are a core feature of human experience and a key factor in our evaluation of, and reaction to, the world around us. Disorders of mood (depression and anxiety) are the most common psychiatric disorders and responsible for the majority of the social and person burden of mental illness in the world. Mood disorders are the result of a complex interaction between personal vulnerability and environmental stress, both of which can be understood at multiple levels or stages from genes to brain function, from childhood trauma to ongoing life stresses. Our research programme is aimed at investigating the biological mechanisms involved in both vulnerability to depression and response to treatment and their interaction with environmental factors.
- How do genetics and environment interact in the vulnerability to depression and what are the endophenotypic correlates?
- What is the neurobiological basis of resilience to depression?
- What is the neural basis of vulnerability to depression?
- What is the neural basis of response to pharmacological treatment in depression?
- What is the role of the stress hormone system (the HPA axis) in cognitive impairment and resistance to treatment in depression?
- What is the role of specific neurotransmitters (serotonin and glutamate) in depression and its treatment?
- New Mood study
This study (now closed) aimed to gain a better understanding of the causes of depression, and to discover new mechanisms of effective drug treatment leading to the development of novel antidepressant therapies.
- REMEDi study
The REmission MEchanisms in Depression (REMEDi) study (now closed) used state-of-the-art brain imaging methods to investigate why only some people with depression get better when they take antidepressants.
- Resilience to Depression study
Some people who experience a lot of life stress are vulnerable to depression. Others remain resilient even in the face of considerable stress. In this study we will explore the reasons why people respond differently to high levels of stress.
- ADD study
The Antiglucocorticoid augmentation of antiDepressants in Depression (ADD) study is a multicentre study with Newcastle and Leeds investigating whether metyrapone is an effective treatment for depression in patients who have failed to respond to antidepressants and the hormonal and brain mechanisms involved in metyrapone's action
- P1Vital and commercial depression studies
These are collaborative studies between the University and a consortium of major pharmaceutical companies organised by P1vital to test whether computer tests and brain scans can be used to determine whether new treatments for depression are likely to be effective. One promising biomarker is the brain's response to viewing pictures of emotional faces. A number of known antidepressant drugs given in a single dose decrease this response without any effects on how healthy volunteers feel. Industry can use this to detect entirely new treatments.