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Mental Illness

Many of our academics are world-leading experts in the symptoms of mental illness and psychiatric diagnoses. Our work in the Psychology Research Institute has influenced the classification systems used for psychiatric diagnosis worldwide, particularly in the context of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Our researchers also investigate the relationship between individual symptoms of mental illness and use the results to inform clinically relevant treatments.

Colleagues in our Biomedical Sciences Research Institute are exploiting the remarkable opportunities made possible by recent molecular advances: revolutionary changes in biomedicine and biotechnology that will offer particular advantages in the field of mental health research.

In particular, the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine aims to identify how our genes or patterns in levels and state of molecules within our bodies could be used to create robust clinical decision-making tests for mental health disorders (Schizophrenia, Depression) and Dementia. One ongoing study is assessing the biological factors affecting antidepressant treatment response.

Our Pharmacy colleagues can provide expertise concerning drug delivery and response for psychotropic medication. Our research on the etiology of mental illness also includes groundbreaking studies using brain-imaging techniques. There has been a wealth of research conducted into factors that predict risk or promote resilience of mental illness, and into the comorbidity between mental health disorders and a wide array of associated biopsychosocial factors.

There is still much to learn about the underlying mechanisms and causes of these illnesses, the overlaps and interactions between them, and the factors that increase and reduce risk. This line of research is enhanced when biologists, psychologists and social scientists work together, and is a key strength of our institute’s approach.