Research Topic

Mechanisms Underlying Mood Disorders

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Mood disorders can be defined as a group of mental illnesses which affect a person’s persistent emotional state. Depression and bipolar disorder are examples of mood disorders that can have severe and life-threatening consequences. An estimated 21.4% of US adults have experienced a prolonged period in a ...

Mood disorders can be defined as a group of mental illnesses which affect a person’s persistent emotional state. Depression and bipolar disorder are examples of mood disorders that can have severe and life-threatening consequences. An estimated 21.4% of US adults have experienced a prolonged period in a disrupted emotional state at least once in their lifetime with higher prevalence among women. Throughout the years a lot of candidate mechanisms have been suggested as possible causes or contributors underpinning these disorders, but further research is still required. Potential mechanisms include but not limited to the dysregulation of the monoaminergic and glutamate system either due to genetic predisposition or other environmental factors (i.e. stress, childhood trauma, etc), as well as the interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Unfortunately, the efficacy of existing treatments derived from these lines of research are limited and tend to include problematic side effect profiles, so novel research is required to identify new treatment targets.

Clinical and preclinical studies over the past decades have attempted to uncover the biological factors mediating the pathophysiology of mood disorders; however, the underlying mechanisms are still not well understood. Traditional treatments such as classical antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety medications are only effective for a subpopulation of patients and, amplifying this problem, some of those patients will experience relapse episodes. Moreover, many environmental factors such as stress, childhood trauma or drug addiction can contribute to the development or exacerbation of such diseases. More research is required to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms, as well as the contributing factors, that might help the development of novel and more effective treatments. The goal of this Research Topic is to summarize the current suggested mechanisms underlying mood disorders with emphasis on novel findings, contributing factors and novel drug development efforts.

The aim of this Research Topic is to generate new insights into the mechanisms underlying mood disorders at the genetic and neurobiological level. Moreover, we are interested in mechanisms of how contributing factors or comorbid disorders such as stress, microbiome changes and drug addiction influence the development of mood disorders. Both pre-clinical and clinical studies are welcomed, as well as review articles. Specifically, we are interested in submissions addressing the following themes:

• Brain circuits involved in the development of mood disorders
• Genetic underpinnings of mood disorders
• Effects of microbiome changes on mood disorders
• Recent advances on drug development and novel pharmacotherapies for mood disorders
• Drug and alcohol addiction comorbidity with mood disorders and the underlying mechanisms
• Severity of symptomatology and possible interactions with treatment outcomes.


Keywords: depression, bipolar disorder, mood stabilizer, antidepressants, mood disorders


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