B3998 - Development of anxiety and depression in young people explaining individual and cross-cohort differences in risk outcomes - 22/02/2022

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Stephan Collishaw | Wolfson Centre for Young People's Mental Health, Cardiff University (Uk)
Dr Foteini Tseliou, Dr Jessica Armitage, Ms Egle Padaigaite, Dr Joanna Martin, Ms Charlotte Dennison, Prof Anita Thapar, Prof Frances Rice, Dr Vicky Powell, Dr Lucy Riglin, Prof Kate Tilling
Title of project: 
Development of anxiety and depression in young people: explaining individual and cross-cohort differences in risk & outcomes
Proposal summary: 

Adolescence is marked by rapid social and biological change and a sharp rise in the incidence of depression and some forms of anxiety. Youth anxiety and depression are typically foreshadowed by earlier childhood difficulties and exposure to multiple adversities; additionally, there are far-reaching consequences for outcomes in adulthood – for education and employment, relationships with others, and physical and mental health. Young people today are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression than previous generations.

There is substantial variability in the developmental course of depression and anxiety, with our own research showing distinct developmental pathways leading to depression, and differences in outcomes. For example, some children show chronic or escalating mental health difficulties; others (even those at high risk) do not develop anxiety and depression. Understanding when, how and in whom to intervene to reduce risk is important to prevent anxiety and depression and to improve outcomes. We aim to identify early predictors of risk (social, clinical and genetic), consider protective mechanisms that build mental health resilience and optimise outcomes, and test the causal role of identified risk and protective factors.

Through comparison with other cohorts, we will test the extent to which findings generalise, and what the reasons are for increases in youth depression and anxiety in more recent generations of young people.

Impact of research: 
Depression and anxiety typically have their origins in childhood and adolescence. They are also associated with substantial burdens for individuals, families and society as a whole. The study will improve our understanding of which young people are most at risk, which risk and protective factors have the potential to delay or prevent onset or improve outcomes, and the reasons behind population-level changes in youth mental health. Findings thus have the potential to inform ongoing and future development of preventive interventions for youth depression and/or anxiety, and to inform policy responses to improve youth mental health. We will work closely with relevant stakeholders (youth advisory groups, policy makers, mental health practitioners, schools and the third sector) through the course of the project to maximise the translational potential of findings from this project. Findings will also inform ongoing development/evaluation of new youth anxiety and depression intervention programmes by our group. These include an intergenerational intervention to prevent depression in young people at high familial risk; a mental health tool kit for use in schools; whole school interventions to promote mental health.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 9 February, 2022
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 14 February, 2022
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health, Statistical methods, Development, Genetic epidemiology