Dr. Etienne Sibille, Campbell Family Chair in Clinical Neuroscience and Deputy Director of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH, has shown there are genetic differences in depression between men and women.
CAMH scientists are shedding new light on why current treatments may not work for everyone, while also indicating directions to new methods to improve care.
Major depressive disorder, for instance, isn’t one condition that can be treated with one approach. At least 30 per cent of patients don’t respond adequately—or at all—to current depression treatments. For researchers, the question is why and what can be done about it?
One answer is likely because of genetic differences in depression between women and men. This year, a study by Dr. Etienne Sibille of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute showed the same genes are activated the opposite way in women and men with depression. Dr. Sibille’s research takes what we already know—that there are obvious differences in how the sexes experience depression—to the next level, paving the way for more investigation.
Another CAMH discovery highlights how depression changes the brain over time. Through brain imaging, Dr. Jeff Meyer found that people with periods of untreated depression lasting more than a decade had significantly more brain inflammation compared to those with less than 10 years of untreated depression.
However, no matter how long people have had depression, they are all typically treated using the same approach, says Dr. Meyer. This one-size-fits-all mentality doesn’t work. We need to change how we think about and provide care for depression as it progresses.
These findings confirm the absolute necessity of doing parallel studies in men and women and of reassessing what we’ve taken for granted. Depression is not just depression.
Dr. Etienne Sibille, Campbell Family Chair in Clinical Neuroscience and Deputy Director of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute
Research by Dr. Lena Quilty is shaping our understanding of depression from another angle: personality. A recent study showed that scores for specific personality traits are associated with depression severity. She’s also investigating how personality traits predict response to treatment. The long-term goal is to identify whether personality traits can serve as evidence-based markers that inform a person’s diagnosis and treatment options.
The Campbell Institute is enhancing our understanding of the underlying biological systems of mental illnesses. Through collaboration across CAMH research, the goal is to develop more personalized and precise care. Ongoing discoveries show that we can’t achieve this goal without looking at the “big picture” factors that contribute to mental illness.
“A key priority with our research plan is to advance a new way of thinking of mental illness that links the brain, the rest of the body, social context and environment, and lifespan,” says Dr. Bruce Pollock, Vice-President of Research and Director of the Campbell Institute.
As a world-leading hospital with a diverse population and scientific expertise in brain science, clinical care and policy research, CAMH can draw on all its strengths to translate new research discoveries into meaningful change for patients.
Dr. Etienne Sibille is translating science into care at CAMH’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, and developing personalized medicine to can treat the individual — not just the illness. Watch this video to see how.
Over Years, Depression Changes the Brain, New CAMH Study Shows
New brain imaging research from CAMH shows that the brain alters after years of persistent depression, suggesting the need to change how we think about depression as it progresses.