2022 PDCF Angharad de Cates

Dr Angharad de Cates

2022 Post-doctoral Clinical Fellowship

Neurocognition and network connectivity in remitted depression: does it help us predict risk?

As a psychiatrist, I’m particularly interested in how various mental illnesses affect the brain’s ability to think in general, and how different facets of that may make different outcomes worse for our patients. Depression affects one in five people in their lifetime around the world, and is one of the world’s top causes of disability. Poor thinking affects over half of those with depression, and patients rate it as their biggest concern after low mood as it can have so many symptoms, such as poor concentration and attention, reduced ability to plan daily life and tasks, and memory difficulties. However, antidepressants that we use to treat depression often don’t help problems with thinking, and even when people’s mood lifts, often these thinking problems persist. Those with thinking difficulties, with or without depression, find it harder to do many things in life, such as finding and staying in work.

Compared to healthy people, some people with depression have functional changes within their brain networks – that is, how the different regions of their brain communicate with each other and work together. We know that these functional changes are also linked with problems with thinking. What we don’t know is how these three connect: depression, thinking problems and functional changes, and how these may interact to predict future episodes of depression – that’s what I’ll be investigating with this project using large population datasets.