"The Power of Resilience: Positive Psychotherapy for Youth at Clinical High-Risk (CHR) for Psychosis"
Our lab has studied the effects of stress experienced by clinical high-risk (CHR) youth for developing psychosis. Research has shown that CHR youth are in need of novel treatments to help them cope with stress and the symptoms they experience. This study will look at a newly developed therapy known as Positive Psychotherapy (PPT), which helps young people identify their individual character strengths to build resilience. The study will evaluate the effects of group PPT in CHR youth to reduce stress and psychosis-risk syndrome symptoms compared to standard treatment. It is hoped that PPT will provide CHR youth with useful tools to help them navigate through their future, and to be better equipped to deal with the challenges of daily life.
"The Effects of Housing Stability on Service Use among Formerly Homeless Adults with Mental Illness and Substance Abuse"
Mental illness and substance abuse are pervasive problems among the chronically homeless population. This study will explore how the use of health, social and justice services differ during transitions from homelessness to housing compared to those from housing to homelessness. It will also examine the differences in service use between participants who achieve housing stability and those who experience housing difficulties and recurrent homelessness. The study is recruiting 68 participants who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and a comorbid substance-use problem, and who are homeless at study entry. Half of the sample will receive housing first (affordable housing in the form of independent apartments with intensive case management); the other half will receive standard care. Participants will be followed over a 24-month period, with three assessments occurring during this time.
"How do avoidant attachment and depression impact quit smoking rates among HIV+ people"
This study will compare nicotine use and depressed mood among HIV+ people as a function of their avoidant attachment relational style. This study will also examine how changes in depressed mood and attachment avoidance are related to quit smoking and nicotine use. This study is part of a larger randomized trial examining the use of two different medications (varenicline and nicotine patch), each with and without additional quit smoking counselling tailored for HIV+ smokers. This study is recruiting participants across eight Canadian sites, and is supported by the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network. Participants complete self-report questionnaires assessing their avoidant attachment level, depressed mood, and nicotine use at baseline, then every four weeks for 24 weeks. Nicotine use is also confirmed using a machine that measures carbon monoxide levels.
"Unraveling antidepressant response: Genetic and microRNA Biomarker Integration to Predict Response in Late-life Depression Using Machine Learning Models"
Major depression affects almost two million Canadians per year, and is the leading cause of years lost due to disability in Ontario, more than all cancers and infectious diseases combined. Older adults with depression are particularly at an increased risk of significant impairment, cognitive decline, increased risk for dementia, and the highest rates of suicide of any age group without timely diagnosis and effective treatment. This research project will explore the potential to develop a computational model using individual biological and clinical characteristics to predict response to commonly prescribed antidepressants.
"A Preventative Approach for Postpartum Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention"
Postpartum depression is a serious mental health disorder that affects up to 20% of women who have recently given birth. Furthermore, up to 84% of new mothers experience the "baby blues," which is a briefer period of emotional disturbance. Postpartum depressive symptoms have been found to negatively affect the daily functioning of mothers and can adversely affect the development of infants. Consequently, there is a pressing need for an effective preventive strategy to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
"A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Two Different Patterns of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in the Treatment of Refractory Depression"
Major depression is a common, disabling illness. For a large portion of patients with depression, medications and therapy are not effective. New treatments are urgently needed. The proposed study will investigate the use of an emerging, non-invasive form of brain stimulation known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), to treat major depression. rTMS involves stimulating certain areas of the brain with powerful, focused magnetic field pulses. Over time, the magnetic field pulses can gradually change the activity level of the stimulated brain region. This can be helpful in treating certain kinds of psychiatric illnesses, such as major depression.
"Can Changes in Brain Activity Predict Who Will Respond to Ketamine as a Rapid Treatment for Depression?"
Most antidepressant medications take many weeks to become effective and don't always work for every patient. In fact, around 40% of people with major depressive disorder don't respond to current medications and are considered to be “treatment-resistant.” Recent studies have shown that a single low dose of the anesthetic drug ketamine can greatly reduce depression symptoms (depressed mood, guilt, work and interests, anxiety) and can diminish suicidal thoughts within hours of taking the medication.
"Bringing relief to caregivers: Evaluating the effects of mindfulness on psychosocial well-being and cognitive function in informal caregivers of persons with dementia"
The number of older adults in Ontario is projected to more than double from almost 2.1 million in 2013 to over 4.5 million by 2041, leading to a dramatic expansion in the number of individuals who develop dementia. The growth in dementia cases will consequently increase the number of individuals who provide care. Athough the prevalence of informal caregivers varies across Canada, Ontario has a particularly high prevalence rate of 29%, making informal caregivers an important segment of the population for Ontario mental health initiatives to address.
"Children’s Negative Affect Regulation and Early Mental Health: The Roles of Parent Sensitivity and Children’s Coping"
The total cost of mental health problems on the Canadian economy is significant, at a current estimate of $50 billion per year. Nine to 14% of children experience mental health difficulties. Moreover, children with mental heath difficulties are more likely to become adults with mental health difficulties. Given this information, it is important to understand what aspects in early childhood might contribute to having mental health difficulties in the future. It is also important to understand what aspects in early childhood might protect children from developing such difficulties.
"The Effects of a Tablet-based Intervention in Reducing Children’s Peri-operative Anxiety"
Pre-operative anxiety affects up to 5 million children in North America each year and is associated with many adverse psychological, behavioural and medical effects. High stress prior to surgery can also change a child’s body in ways that can lead to more anxiety and pain, more infections and longer healing times. Children who are anxious prior to surgery often require higher doses of pain medications and take longer to recover. Surgery-related anxiety can also increase the risk of separation anxiety, eating problems, sleeping problems and bedwetting, as well as increase fear of doctors. These children are also more likely to wake up after surgery in a highly confused state that can complicate recovery. These problems not only produce significant distress for children and their families, but can have both immediate and long-term effects on a child’s mental health and development.
"Optimizing Emotion Regulation in Borderline Personality Disorder: Why and When Strategies Do and Do Not Work"
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) involves high rates of suicide and self-harm, and is known to be difficult to treat. The therapies that effectively reduce the number of self-harm and suicide acts in BPD are very long and intensive. This project is investigating ways to make these treatments work better and faster. Borderline Personality Disorder is a significant public health problem that exists in 5.9% of North Americans. It is characterized by pervasive instability of identity, actions, behaviours, cognitions and relationships, and is plagued by self-destructive behaviours. Almost all people with BPD (84%) exhibit suicidal behaviours, and 10% of Canadians with BPD die by suicide. It is clear that BPD is a significant mental health issue from both an individual and societal lens.
"Functional dissociation of GABA interneuron cell types in working memory processes linked to schizophrenia"
Schizophrenia is a chronic debilitating mental illness involving severe perceptual, emotional and cognitive disturbances. It affects approximately 300,000 people in Canada and places significant strain on the nation’s economy and health care services. Equally importantly, patients experience a diminished quality of life as a result of the persistent and distressing symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms include disorganized thoughts, false beliefs and sensory experiences, reduced motivation, social withdrawal, and deficits in attention, planning and memory.
"A New Biomarker-Based Approach Towards Developing Improved Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Based Upon Targeting Monoamine Oxidase A (MAO-A)"
"Investigation of Facial Affect Processing Following Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Patients with Schizophrenia: An Event-related Potential (ERP) Study"