It is rare for a researcher in any field to make a discovery that has the potential to fundamentally transform treatment and care. In the field of mental health neuroscience, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, head of the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, has already made two.
In 2015, in his continued search for biomarkers of mental illness in the brain, Dr. Meyer found that the entire brain is a biomarker for depression, in the form of overall brain inflammation. Using CAMH’s brain imaging technology, he found that the brains of people with depression had more inflammation—30 per cent more on average—than the brains of people who were not depressed. The greater the inflammation, the more severe the depression.
It was such a seismic shift in thinking about mental illness and the brain that it has become one of the most highly-cited research studies internationally that CAMH has ever produced.
Just a few years later in 2017, Dr. Meyer published another ground-breaking study, this time on post-partum depression, something one out of seven (13 per cent) women experience, making it the most common serious side-effect of child birth. Still working with biomarkers, Dr. Meyer found in brain scans that women suffering from postpartum depression had elevated levels of a brain protein known as ‘MAO-A’, which is associated with mood regulation. He created a dietary supplement carefully designed to target this protein that combines two amino acids with a blueberry extract.