April 2014

Future Research Studies Will Be Held to New Standards

For years consumer groups have put forth ideas to improve research and treatment development for mental illnesses. We have stressed that “time matters” - the time it takes to develop and move drugs to market needs to decrease so that consumers will benefit sooner. We’ve encouraged researchers to stop funding studies that are just academically interesting and focus on trials that increase treatment options. And lastly, we’ve urged researchers to close the science gap by studying the biology of these illnesses.

The need to develop the next generation of real-world treatments by funding short biology-based studies is urgent. Drug discovery is at a near standstill for treating psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Federal support for research has been greatly reduced and these limited budgets mean that difficult decisions must be made and priorities set.

In response, NIMH is changing the way researchers do business, as they roll out the Research Domain Criteria or RDoC project. The initiative shortens study timelines, shares study outcomes with the public, and increases funding for clinical trials that impact real treatment. Most importantly, priority will be given to studies dedicated to understanding the basic neuroscience of the illnesses so that we can move beyond treatment to cure.

NIMH director Tom Insel, M.D., wants consumers to know that they have been heard and that future research efforts will be more focused on increasing the quality of life for people living with mood disorders “The pharmaceutical industry has reduced investments in medications for mental disorders and insurance companies are raising questions about the quality of evidence for psychosocial treatments. We hope that this new approach to clinical trials will set us on a course to having the science base necessary for generating effective new therapeutics and validating those we have now.”

It might surprise the public to learn that the challenge of recruiting enough study participants is the most common reason that researchers request an extension to a trial. In fact, the lack of study participants can cause up to four years of delay in taking a promising treatment to the next step in the process. The changes in research protocol, and the advancement in technology, will create extraordinary opportunities to develop new treatments and possible cures. To deliver on this promise we need to share our unique knowledge with scientists by enrolling in studies. The cost of inaction is too high.

Find a study that’s right for you by visiting www.WeSearchTogether.org.

Remote Roundup

WeSearchTogether connects you to studies you can do from anywhere—no travel required! Check out the latest remote-participation studies:

Depression and Culture
Researchers are hoping to learn more about how our gender and cultural and ethnic background influence the way we experience depressive symptoms.

Thinking Styles and Mood
Research has shown that peoples' thoughts and feelings are strongly connected. This study aims to learn more about how different styles or ways of thinking can affect peoples' moods, both positively and negatively. By studying the connection between thinking styles and mood, researchers can identify factors that put people at risk for developing mood disorders, such as depression. In addition, this research may aid in the development of effective treatments for these disorders.

The Uses of Music Which Intensifies Depression
Do you find that certain music makes you feel really good while other music can make you feel a bit low? You are invited to participate in a research study about how listening to music effects your mood, which is being conducted by the University of Melbourne in Australia. You can assist us with this research by taking an online survey that will take about 20 minutes of your time. This research has the potential to better help us understand the impact that music listening can have on mood in people with depression.

Study of Mobile Phone Sensing and Outreach to Assist an Internet-based Behavioral Intervention for Depression (Mobilyze!)
Researchers are looking for new ways to provide care for depression. This study is evaluating the intervention referred to as Mobilyze! Mobilyze! is delivered via a mobile phone, interactive website, and e-mail, and aims to help individuals with depression. The purpose of this study is to obtain preliminary information on the feasibility and effectiveness of Mobilyze! in improving symptoms of depression.