40,000 people urged to join largest study of depression and anxiety

Researchers seek 40,000 people to join the online Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

Illustration of diverse group of adult people

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London and the NIHR BioResource are calling for 40,000 people with depression or anxiety to join the online Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

By recruiting at least 40,000 people in England who have experienced either depression or anxiety at some point in their life, the Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study will make important strides towards better understanding of these disorders and improving the lives of future patients. GLAD will provide a ‘pool’ of potential participants for future studies on the genetic aspects of these two conditions and reduce the time-consuming process of recruiting patients for research.

The study is led by  Dr Gerome Breen, Reader of Neuropsychiatric & Translational Genetics, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, IoPPN, King’s College London and he comments: “It’s a really exciting time to become involved in mental health research, particularly genetic research which has made incredible strides in recent years – we have so far identified 66 genetic links for depression and anxiety. By recruiting 40,000 volunteers willing to be re-contacted for research, the GLAD Study will take us further than ever before. It will allow researchers to solve the big unanswered questions, address how genes and environment act together and help develop new treatment options.”

The GLAD Study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as a collaboration between the NIHR BioResource and King’s College London, has been designed to be particularly accessible, with a view to motivating more people to take part in mental health research.

Dr Sophie Dix, Director of Research at the charity MQ, which advocates for more research into mental health conditions, is supporting the GLAD Study. She comments: “Only through further research into the root causes of anxiety and depression can we hope to achieve the same breakthroughs that have been seen with other physical conditions. Our dream is a world where people can achieve full control of their mental health conditions, and where treatments are personalised to work for them. We encourage anyone living with depression or anxiety who shares this vision to enrol.”

Study co-lead, and anxiety expert, Professor Thalia Eley, Professor of Developmental Behavioural Genetics, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, IoPPN, King’s College London comments: “The GLAD Study is straightforward. We’re asking those who have experienced clinical anxiety or depression to complete a short survey and provide a DNA sample (from saliva). We want to hear from all different backgrounds, cultures, ethnic groups and genders, and we are especially keen to hear from young adults. By including people from all parts of the population what we learn will be relevant for everyone. This is a unique opportunity to participate in pioneering medical science – we hope the public back the study and we can reach our target of 40,000 people.”

The GLAD study is open to anyone in England, aged 16 or over, who has experienced clinical anxiety and/or depression. Taking part involves just two simple steps:

  1. Register at GLADStudy.org.uk and complete a 30 minute online questionnaire
  2. Complete and return a DNA saliva sample test, which is sent with instructions and a free return envelope

Signing up to the GLAD Study will also involve allowing access to your NHS medical records, providing important clinical data to link with other information and give a full picture of each individual. This data will be held securely (in line with new data regulations) and will only be accessed by a limited number of approved researchers. People who take part will receive updates twice-a-year about the progress of the research and online access to information on upcoming studies.

Watch a short video - less than 90 seconds - explaining the GLAD study