We have established research to design new services and pathways for treating mood disorders.
Why is our research focusing on mood disorders?
Mood disorders can be difficult to manage, and current treatments are not always effective. This is partly because we traditionally think about difficulties with our mood as either being depression or not. For example, you may have heard people describe being clinically depressed and the umbrella term mood disorder refers to a very wide range of conditions including depression, bipolar disorders, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and dysthymia. In addition, given how many of us experience problems with our mood, we need to find ways of helping people across the whole spectrum from the more common anxiety and depression symptoms through to those experiencing the most debilitating difficulties that will require specialist care.
We expect that there are more subtle ways of understanding how people experience problems with their mood beyond these broad diagnoses or conditions. By developing a better understanding of how we characterise mood disorders, we hope to open up opportunities for obtaining help earlier and to find new treatments that target an individual’s specific problems rather than assuming that depression is a single entity. Our research will try and address this by designing new services and pathways for treating mood disorders. As part of this work, we will set up a regional mood disorders treatment centre. This aims to better integrate care and management for people with mood problems across primary care (i.e. GPs and charities ) and secondary care (i.e. hospital-based and community care).
How will we design new pathways?
Our Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC) is a partnership of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Liverpool. This enables our research to be embedded in care and have a direct impact on NHS services. As part of our mood disorders work package, we will locate and try new treatments targeted to an individual’s specific difficulties to personalise their care and treatment.
We will use a range of innovative digital technologies including artificial intelligence (AI). AI refers to the engineering and scientific field that tries to equip computers with abilities we usually associate with human expertise. For example, playing games, driving cars, holding conversations and importantly, making predictions about our health and discovering meaningful patterns in vast amounts of data that would be impossible for humans to do manually. An especially important part of using AI in healthcare is how to use these technologies ethically and without causing unintended harm.
We will test if AI and data science can be used to find patients with difficult-to-treat depression and link them to the most appropriate trials of new interventions. We will link with the mental health avatar projects in M-RIC to help us analyse an individual’s symptoms, their rhythms of life and biology. This will enable us to gain a better understanding of how people experience mood problems, what works for them and how we can best provide services and treatments in a timely and helpful way.
Latest news on the Innovative Therapies for Mood Disorders work package
Consultation event – 12 January
On 12 January, service users and carers attended an event at The Life Rooms Bootle. They shared their different experiences and insights to help us shape the design of a new, dedicated mood disorders service for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.
The event was attended by 15 service users and carers with lived experience of mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorders, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and dysthymia. It is the first of a series of consultations with different stakeholders that will take place.
Trialling different therapies for people experiencing mood problems and depression