Looking Toward the Future
Recent research on mood disorders has stimulated hope for significant gains in the fight against these age-old problems. Genetic studies are starting to unravel the complex interaction between our DNA and the environment in producing depression and bipolar disorder. Neuroimaging research has begun to identify the key brain pathways that are involved in these illnesses. Newer medications are being developed and tested. And, other techniques such as cognitive-behavior therapy and interpersonal and social rhythms therapy have been shown to be very helpful in reducing symptoms and lowering the risk for relapse.
Although progress has been made, much remains to be done. For example, many people with depression go untreated or have large delays in receiving needed therapies, available treatments are often not fully effective in helping people reach a full remission of their symptoms, and recurrences of episodes of depression and bipolar disorder are still much too common.
The University of Louisville Depression Center is working to improve the treatment of mood disorders through clinical services, education, and research. In our adult services programs we have over 30,000 visits per year of persons with mood disorders, and we are using evidence based treatments that offer the best chance for full recovery and sustained well-being. Increasing the availability of these treatments in our region is a top priority for future growth. An especially important initiative is developing methods for providing best practices methods in primary care. We are doing research on enhanced treatment for depression in primary care, and are launching a comprehensive depression management program for University of Louisville employees. We are also promoting growth of specialty programs for mood disorders including those targeted to children and adolescents, women, men, and the elderly. In all of these efforts, we hope to bring new research findings on the most effective treatments into clinical practice as soon as possible.
One of the top priorities for future growth of the Depression Center is to substantially increase basic and applied research on mood disorders. A major goal is to establish at least two new endowed professorships in research through philanthropic support. The endowed professors and their teams will work with current faculty and their research groups in a concentrated effort to find solutions to depression and bipolar disorder. Another important goal is to establish an endowment to provide “start-up” funding for promising pilot projects that could lead to successful federal or other national grant applications and full development of research programs.