Chair in Mood Disorder Research

Touching the lives of many: local mood disorder research will have global impact

Dalhousie University’s Department of Psychiatry is proud to be conducting world-class collaborative research focusing on personalized treatment for mood disorders.  According to Stats Canada, over two million Canadians suffered with a mood disorder in 2013 and numbers are on the rise. Mood disorders include conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, or dysthymia. The effects of mood disorders can be devastating, leading to severe disruptions in the life of the person with the condition, and that of their family and friends. There is a high risk for suicidal behaviours in those experiencing bipolar disorder; particularly when it has not been quickly or effectively treated. Thanks to the knowledge, time, and dedication of our researchers, and to the compassionate spirit of our donors, great strides are being made to find effective, long-term, and individualized treatments of mood disorders, right here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“What we are trying to establish here is a long-term research program that focuses on the key, clinically relevant issues in mood disorders and we are doing this in collaboration with researchers from around the world.”

Researchers at Dalhousie are committed to developing a mood disorder treatment plan that is unique to each patient and has a strong focus on early intervention. It can take months, even years, to find the most effective treatment plan for an individual living with bipolar disorder. The risk of suicide is highest in the early stages of diagnosis of bipolar disorder; our team wants to shorten the length of time required to find effective treatments. By finding successful treatments faster, those experiencing mania and/or depression will start feeling better, sooner.   

With millions of Canadians of all ages experiencing mood disorders, this research is crucial.

With mood disorders so drastically affecting the lives of individuals around the world, we want to create a long-lived endeavour, starting with Dr. Alda and then being passed along to his successor. That is why endowed funds are so important”. Endowed funds allow an organization to invest monies while making regular withdrawals to support an endeavour indefinitely. DMRF is working with the Mood Disorder research team to create a $3 million endowment to support mood disorder research.  

Mental illness is one of the defining issues of our time. It is within our grasp to make a real impact on people’s lives and the health care system on which they rely. This research has the potential to save the lives of many people, around the world, including those we hold dearest.

Mood Disorders Facts

  • Bipolar disorder affects about 2-3% of all adults
  • It is highly heritable with genetic factors accounting for about 80% of causes
  • The illness starts in young people in their late teens and early twenties and is life-long, recurrent and often chronic
  • The illness is associated with high risk of suicide, it is estimated that 10-15% of patients ultimately die by suicide
  • Many patients can be treated successfully
  • No single treatment is effective for all patients; different forms of bipolar disorder respond to different types of treatment
  • Lithium remains the gold standard treatment for prevention of mania and depressive episodes; it is effective in about 30% of all patients
  • In addition to medication, education, psychotherapy and work with families are critical pieces to achieve successful outcomes
  • All forms of depression affect about 15% of all adults