Anxiety and depression research, neuropsychopharmacology
Head: Prof. Dr. R. Rupprecht
Modern neuroscientific and psychiatric research can only be successful if clinical and basic science research are interwoven appropriately. Such an integrative research approach, also referred to as ”translational medicine“, can be expected to eventually lead to further advances in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Our research group employs such an interdisciplinary approach to study depressions and anxiety disorders as well as respective treatment options. According to a WHO survey, neuropsychiatric disorders such as depressions and anxiety disorders contribute significantly to diminished quality of life, making it important to search intensively for new and better treatment options.
Disturbances in the regulation of the balance of chemical messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters) play a role in the development of mental disorders, e.g. depressions and anxiety disorders. We conduct further research into the causes of depressions and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, we study mechanisms of effect of psychopharmaceuticals such as antidepressants and of non-pharmacological treatment approaches such as sleep deprival, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy. The regulation of the stress hormone system and of various endogenous steroids are of considerable importance in this context. Together with molecular genetic studies, such a so-called endophenotypical characterisation of psychiatric disorders may help to better predict response to a certain kind of therapy. Another focus of our work is the evaluation of new kinds of therapy for depression and novel pharmacological treatment options for anxiety disorders. For example, we were able to show that the function of an important neurotransmitter receptor, the GABAA receptor, is disturbed in anxiety disorders, e.g. panic disorder. Improvement of GABAA signal transmission also has an anxiety-relieving effect in humans. Our research group was thus able to contribute to identifying new, interesting molecules that may possibly help to improve the treatment of anxiety symptoms and disorders. The overall aim of our work is to better understand the causes of psychiatric disorders, in particular depressions and anxiety disorders, and develop additional treatment perspectives for these disorders.