Improving treatments for depression at the Mood Disorders Centre

Depression is both a serious and common mental health problem. The World Health Organisation has highlighted that depression affects more people worldwide than any other mental disorder, at around 350 million people of all ages worldwide.

As a long-term and relapsing condition, depression is expected to be the second largest cause of global disability by 2020. Furthermore, there are considerable economic costs brought about through health and welfare costs, as well as lost productivity – the total is estimated at £7.5 billion in the UK alone.

The Mood Disorders Centre (MDC), a partnership between the University of Exeter and the NHS, is leading the way to address these challenges.

Its ambition is to develop new knowledge into mood disorders, translate this knowledge into more effective psychological interventions, improve the accessibility of evidence-based treatments, and provide innovative programmes training the next generation of clinical researchers and practitioners.

Having grown in size considerably in recent years, the MDC has been at the forefront of developing enhanced treatment for depression. This has been carried out by first understanding the mechanisms that underpin the illness, and subsequently translating these understandings into innovative care practices.

Common mental health disorders are a major global health challenge. The Mood Disorders Centre seeks to address this challenge by bringing together world-class clinical training and research to develop understanding into mood disorders, translating that understanding into new approaches to treatment and making these new treatments widely accessible and available to patients in a cost-effective way.

We are grateful to the Wellcome Trust for funding the Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research, housing what we believe to be amongst the best facilities for psychological treatment research anywhere in the world.

Research impact

The MDC research has led directly to innovations in treatment that address key priorities in treating mood disorders – such as tackling treatment-resistant depression, preventing relapse and increasing access – as well as improving patients' health and quality of life.

These innovations are implemented worldwide, providing more treatment options for patients, and informing service and training provision through:

  • wide distribution and sharing of the findings
  • the contribution of evidence that influences national policy
  • influencing local, national and international service provision
  • influencing the nature and content of national therapy provision and training
  • raising public knowledge and awareness of mental health issues and their treatment

More than 2,400 Devon patients have already benefited from receiving treatments from the MDC, with many describing these interventions as ‘life-changing’.