May 12, 2006
Translational Research on the Relationship Between Anxiety and Depression
NAMHC Concept Clearance
Michael J. Kozak, Ph.D.
Chief, Adult Psychopathology Research Branch
Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development
Several lines of evidence point to a relationship between anxiety and depression, but it is not well understood. This proposed initiative on the relationship between these disorders is intended to provide data for translation into experimental preventive or treatment interventions for anxiety and depression.
There are several potential explanations for the relationship between these disorders. For example, (1) they may have causal mechanisms in common, or could be distinct processes that overlap or promote one another.
(2) Developmental factors may play a role. (3) Measurement artifact may be a factor. This initiative would call for development and evaluation of innovative hypotheses about relevant mechanisms -- affective, behavioral, biological, cognitive, developmental, and/or social. Examples of research topics, all specific to the relationship between anxiety and depression, would include affective, cognitive, or behavioral processes and their interactions; integration of biological and psychological hypotheses; psychometric overlap among measures of these disorders, with emphasis on innovative psychometric methods, such as those derived from item response theory; variation in sequential association between the two disorders across the life span; the nature of the relationship of childhood anxiety to subsequent depression; specific mechanisms of covariation in family studies; and translation of findings into experimental preventive or treatment interventions, especially for comorbidity.