Evaluating diagnostics for depression and bipolar disorder
We have successfully applied for over £120,000 from the National Institute for Health and Care Research to help refine the diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder.
Mental health problems are the largest cause of disability in the UK and represent an increasing disease burden across all ages. Many regions, including Northeast England, do not receive the support they need despite having a high prevalence of mental health problems.
In August 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) announced a Mental Health Research Initiative to help tackle the disparity between regional needs and mental health research activity.
As part of its biggest-ever coordinated investment in UK mental health research, the NIHR invited all NIHR Medtech and In Vitro Diagnostic Co-operatives (MICs) to apply for additional funding as part of this initiative. We are one of six MICs who have received this funding.
Our specific project is evaluating diagnostics for depression and bipolar disorder. Specifically, the work is asking:
- What are the current challenges associated with diagnosing depression and bipolar disorder in patients with and without pre-existing physical health conditions?
- What are the ideal characteristics for new tests that could tackle these issues?
- What new tests are being developed that potentially have these characteristics?
- How can we improve the recruitment of patients with depression or bipolar disorder into diagnostic studies?
We are answering these questions through interviewing GPs, psychiatrists, specialist clinicians and patients. We are also conducting a systematic review of existing guidelines and research studies. We hope the work will lead to the identification and development of improved diagnostics for depression and bipolar disorder which could allow patients to have access to better targeted treatments.
The project involves collaboration with Professor Hamish McAlister-Williams, Dr Stuart Watson, Professor Luke Vale, Dr Hosein Shabaninejad and Fiona Beyer alongside Professor Miles Witham, our Ageing and Long-Term Chronic Conditions Theme Lead and Professor Nick Reynolds, our Stratified Medicine Theme Lead. The project team also includes the NIHR Innovation Observatory and Manchester Diagnostics and Technology Accelerator.
Jay Hall, a postgraduate from Newcastle University, has led this research as part of her Masters dissertation in Neuroscience in 2022. Jay is continuing this research through a PhD project which she began in Autumn 2022. The PhD is funded by the NIHR Newcastle MIC, NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre and NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria.
Through the Mental Health Research Initiative, the NIHR has funded more than 100 new mental health projects across its infrastructure, schools, and funding programmes. Read more details about the initiative.