More than 20 million children and adults in the U.S. are affected by major depression or bipolar disorder, and depression has been shown to be a leading cause of disability worldwide. In recognition of the scope and burden of these serious medical illnesses, NIMH launched a major effort to assess our current knowledge and to plan a course of research that will move the Nation ahead in answering unsolved questions related to mood disorders.
To accomplish the task of reviewing the science and recommending how to spur scientific progress, NIMH convened nine scientific workgroups in January 2001. The groups spanned the breadth of the relevant science, from genetics to clinical trials and psychosocial interventions, to research that examines the service system and obstacles to care. The workgroups were comprised of nationally recognized scientific experts, members of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, representatives of consumer and advocacy groups, and NIMH staff.
Breaking Ground, Breaking Through: The Strategic Plan for Mood Disorders Research (PDF file, 136 pages), which grew out of the workgroup reports, has just been published. The plan summarizes the current state of the science on major depression and bipolar disorder across the life span; provides a vision of achievable scientific goals; and recommends research priorities to address issues related to causes, diagnosis, improvement of interventions at the level of individual patients and service systems, and prevention of mood disorders.