Family Depression Study


The aim of this project is to understand vulnerability for depression in individuals. By understanding how depression develops, we can develop prevention and early intervention strategies. 

While factors in the environment, such as a difficult family environment, or stressful life events, are major contributors to the likelihood of a person developing MDD, part of the risk for depression depends on an individual’s biological predisposition. Because MDD is a heritable disorder, the relatives of people with depression can give provide us with information about the biological predisposition for vulnerability and resilience.

We will investigate a range of contributing factors including genetics, brain, behavior, personality and experienced symptoms, as well as the impact of life events. We will follow participants up one year after the initial visit to see how the initial measures relate to wellbeing and symptom development overtime. Integration across these measures will contribute to a deeper understanding of the development of depression.

About the Study

Who are the participants? 
We invited the first-degree relatives (parents, brothers, sisters and children) of a person who has experienced major depressive disorder (unipolar depression) to participate.
Other criteria:
Participants must not have experienced MDD themselves, or other mental illness or significant medical disorder, and participants needed to be between 12 and 69 years of age.
The family member who had experienced MDD was invited to participate in the study as well.

What is involved? 
Participation involved the following assessments:

  • Questionnaires
  • Computer based activiies
  • DNA sample
  • EEG recording
  • MRI scan