Generation Scotland participants are contributing to important research on depression in the STRADL project.
In 2014, the Wellcome Trust awarded £4.8M to researchers in Edinburgh and Aberdeen to fund a study of depression using the Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS). Experts say that rather than being one disease, clinical depression is a collection of different disorders with one common symptom – that of low mood. Over the next five years, scientists will study individual groups of people who have known depression risk factors such as a family history of low mood, early life problems such as being born underweight or psychological trauma in childhood.
In the video below, Dr Heather Whalley and Dr Stella Chan explain the aims of the STRADL project.
In the study, participants will be asked to complete new questionnaires on their mental health and resilience. A subset will also be invited to attend a new clinic visit in Aberdeen or Edinburgh, which will include MRI brain imaging.
By studying groupings of people both with and without depression in this way researchers hope to be able to identify its causes and mechanisms, which can be used in the quest for diagnostic tests and new therapies. The investigators will test whether the subgroups of depressed individuals correspond to different diseases using tests of memory and intelligence (cognition) as well as brain imaging.
Clinical depression is a chronic worldwide health problem affecting millions of people and approximately 13 per cent of the UK population. Researchers say that although it is a chronic and recurrent problem for many sufferers, little is known about what makes people vulnerable or resilient to the condition.
Lead researcher, Andrew McIntosh, Professor of Biological Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said: “For many people the symptom of low mood is the most understandable of reactions to loss or stress, yet we remain ignorant of its causes and mechanisms. This means that progress in discovering new and more effective treatments is slow. This Wellcome Trust grant will enable us to make significant progress with this common and disabling condition.”
The study – known as Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally (STRADL) – involves researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Psychiatry, Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) and brain imaging facilities in Edinburgh and at the University of Aberdeen.