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Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a polygenic disorder associated with brain alterations but until recently, there have been no brain-based metrics to quantify individual-level variation in brain morphology. Here, we evaluated and compared the performance of a new brain-based ‘Regional Vulnerability Index’ (RVI) with polygenic risk scores (PRS), in the context of MDD. We assessed associations with syndromal MDD in an adult sample (N = 702, age = 59 ± 10) and with subclinical depressive symptoms in a longitudinal adolescent sample (baseline N = 3,825, age = 10 ± 1; 2-year follow-up N = 2,081, age = 12 ± 1).
MDD-RVIs quantify the correlation of the individual’s corresponding brain metric with the expected pattern for MDD derived in an independent sample. Using the same methodology across samples, subject-specific MDD-PRS and six MDD-RVIs based on different brain modalities (subcortical volume, cortical thickness, cortical surface area, mean diffusivity, fractional anisotropy, and multimodal) were computed.
In adults, MDD-RVIs (based on white matter and multimodal measures) were more strongly associated with MDD (β = 0.099–0.281, PFDR = 0.001–0.043) than MDD-PRS (β = 0.056–0.152, PFDR = 0.140–0.140). In adolescents, depressive symptoms were associated with MDD-PRS at baseline and follow-up (β = 0.084–0.086, p = 1.38 × 10−4−4.77 × 10−4) but not with any MDD-RVIs (β < 0.05, p > 0.05).
Our results potentially indicate the ability of brain-based risk scores to capture a broader range of risk exposures than genetic risk scores in adults and are also useful in helping us to understand the temporal origins of depression-related brain features. Longitudinal data, specific to the developmental period and on white matter measures, will be useful in informing risk for subsequent psychiatric illness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and livelihoods, and people already experiencing mental ill health may have been especially vulnerable.
Quantify mental health inequalities in disruptions to healthcare, economic activity and housing.
We examined data from 59 482 participants in 12 UK longitudinal studies with data collected before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within each study, we estimated the association between psychological distress assessed pre-pandemic and disruptions since the start of the pandemic to healthcare (medication access, procedures or appointments), economic activity (employment, income or working hours) and housing (change of address or household composition). Estimates were pooled across studies.
Across the analysed data-sets, 28% to 77% of participants experienced at least one disruption, with 2.3–33.2% experiencing disruptions in two or more domains. We found 1 s.d. higher pre-pandemic psychological distress was associated with (a) increased odds of any healthcare disruptions (odds ratio (OR) 1.30, 95% CI 1.20–1.40), with fully adjusted odds ratios ranging from 1.24 (95% CI 1.09–1.41) for disruption to procedures to 1.33 (95% CI 1.20–1.49) for disruptions to prescriptions or medication access; (b) loss of employment (odds ratio 1.13, 95% CI 1.06–1.21) and income (OR 1.12, 95% CI 1.06 –1.19), and reductions in working hours/furlough (odds ratio 1.05, 95% CI 1.00–1.09) and (c) increased likelihood of experiencing a disruption in at least two domains (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.18–1.32) or in one domain (OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.07–1.16), relative to no disruption. There were no associations with housing disruptions (OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.97–1.03).
People experiencing psychological distress pre-pandemic were more likely to experience healthcare and economic disruptions, and clusters of disruptions across multiple domains during the pandemic. Failing to address these disruptions risks further widening mental health inequalities.
The relationships between offspring depression profiles across adolescence and different timings of parental depression during the perinatal period remain unknown.
To explore different timings of maternal and paternal perinatal depression in relation to patterns of change in offspring depressive mood over a 14 year period.
Data were obtained from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Parental antenatal depression (ANTD) was assessed at 18 weeks gestation, and postnatal depression (PNTD) at 8 weeks postpartum. Population-averaged trajectories of offspring depressive symptoms were estimated using the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ) on nine occasions between 10 and 24 years of age.
Full data were available for 5029 individuals. Offspring exposed to both timings of maternal depression had higher depressive symptoms across adolescence compared with offspring not exposed to ANTD or PNTD, characterised by higher depressive symptoms at age 16 (7.07 SMFQ points (95% CI = 6.19, 7.95; P < 0.001)) and a greater rate of linear change (0.698 SMFQ points (95% CI = 0.47, 0.93; P = 0.002)). Isolated maternal ANTD and to a lesser extent PNTD were also both associated with higher depressive symptoms at age 16, yet isolated maternal PNTD showed greater evidence for an increased rate of linear change across adolescence. A similar pattern was observed for paternal ANTD and PNTD, although effect sizes were attenuated.
This study adds to the literature demonstrating that exposure to two timings of maternal depression (ANTD and PNTD) is strongly associated with greater offspring trajectories of depressive symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures are likely to have a marked effect on mental health. It is important to use longitudinal data to improve inferences.
To quantify the prevalence of depression, anxiety and mental well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, to identify groups at risk of depression and/or anxiety during the pandemic.
Data were from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) index generation (n = 2850, mean age 28 years) and parent generation (n = 3720, mean age 59 years), and Generation Scotland (n = 4233, mean age 59 years). Depression was measured with the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in ALSPAC and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 in Generation Scotland. Anxiety and mental well-being were measured with the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment-7 and the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale.
Depression during the pandemic was similar to pre-pandemic levels in the ALSPAC index generation, but those experiencing anxiety had almost doubled, at 24% (95% CI 23–26%) compared with a pre-pandemic level of 13% (95% CI 12–14%). In both studies, anxiety and depression during the pandemic was greater in younger members, women, those with pre-existing mental/physical health conditions and individuals in socioeconomic adversity, even when controlling for pre-pandemic anxiety and depression.
These results provide evidence for increased anxiety in young people that is coincident with the pandemic. Specific groups are at elevated risk of depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is important for planning current mental health provisions and for long-term impact beyond this pandemic.
Depressive symptoms show different trajectories throughout childhood and adolescence that may have different consequences for adult outcomes.
To examine trajectories of childhood depressive symptoms and their association with education and employment outcomes in early adulthood.
We estimated latent trajectory classes from participants with repeated measures of self-reported depressive symptoms between 11 and 24 years of age and examined their association with two distal outcomes: university degree and those not in employment, education or training at age 24.
Our main analyses (n = 9399) yielded five heterogenous trajectories of depressive symptoms. The largest group found (70.5% of participants) had a stable trajectory of low depressive symptoms (stable–low). The other four groups had symptom profiles that reached full-threshold levels at different developmental stages and for different durations. We identified the following groups: childhood–limited (5.1% of participants) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 11–13; childhood–persistent (3.5%) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 13–24; adolescent onset (9.4%) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 17–19; and early-adult onset (11.6%) with full-threshold symptoms at ages 22–24. Relative to the majority ‘stable–low’ group, the other four groups all exhibited higher risks of one or both adult outcomes.
Accurate identification of depressive symptom trajectories requires data spanning the period from early adolescence to early adulthood. Consideration of changes in, as well as levels of, depressive symptoms could improve the targeting of preventative interventions in early-to-mid adolescence.
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