B3591 - Exploring the progression of mental illness Identifying predictors of recovery - 11/08/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Robyn Wootton | University of Bristol
George Davey Smith, David Kessler, Marcus Munafo, Andy Skinner, Kate Tilling, Alexandra Havdahl, Anne-Siri Oyen
Title of project: 
Exploring the progression of mental illness: Identifying predictors of recovery
Proposal summary: 

Depression is the leading cause of global disability with over 300 million people suffering world-wide. Estimates suggest that up to two thirds of patients do not recover following their first antidepressant treatment and up to one third do not recover after multiple treatments. Therefore, it is critically important to identify factors that predict recovery and reduce risk of relapse. Current methods in genetic epidemiology focus on predictors of mental illness onset. While this is crucial to prevent new diagnoses, it does little to help individuals already suffering. Therefore, the Recover project aims to extend current genetic epidemiology methods to better understand recovery from depression. The methods developed here will begin with a focus on depression but can also be extended to other mental illnesses. First, we will develop trajectories of depression using continuous longitudinal measures in two critical time points, 1) adolescence and early adulthood and 2) during and post pregnancy. Second, using these trajectories as outcomes we will explore many modifiable predictors of recovery. Third, we will use cutting-edge causal inference techniques to test whether or not these predictors are causal. And finally, we will develop novel technologies to capture fine-grained fluctuations in mood. Taken together, this work will lead to better interventions and inform adjuncts to treatment having real impact for the growing number of individuals suffering from depression.

Impact of research: 
With over 300 million people living with depression globally, it has been called a “mental illness epidemic”. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, resulting in an estimated 800,000 suicides per year globally and 44 million lost years of productive life. Despite increased treatment provision, prevalence of depression has not decreased and up to a third of patients have still not responded after multiple treatments. Depression can bring immense suffering to both the individual afflicted and their family. Not responding to treatment can be both terrifying and frustrating. Given this significant burden that depression poses to both the individual and their families, strategies to promote recovery and prevent relapse are of upmost importance to public health. Therefore, it is critically important for patients that we identify factors that predict recovery and reduce the risk of relapse. Our proposed Recover project would have real impact for individuals with depression, their families and wider society.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 6 August, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 11 August, 2020
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Genetic epidemiology