A team of researchers from across the South West of England has won more than two
million pounds ($3.2 million) to investigate different ways of treating depression.
Designed to assess a range of treatments, the trials will be led by the University of
Bristol in collaboration with other universities in the region.

Two of the trials are featured in this Research TV film:

   1. GENPOD will compare two different types of antidepressants – SSRIs and
      NaRIs. Most of the current evidence suggests that there is little difference
      between them in their ability to alleviate depression. Nevertheless, there are
      clearly patients who respond to one class of compounds, but not the other.

        This suggests that the best treatment could be predicted by understanding the
        genetic reasons why people respond differently. Knowing this would allow
        GPs and psychiatrists to prescribe the right treatment first time round, thereby
        speeding recovery.

Professor Glyn Lewis, head of Bristol University’s Academic Unit of Psychiatry, said
of the trial: “While antidepressants are an effective treatment for depression, there is
uncertainty and concern about their use, especially in those with mild depression.
Depression places a huge burden on society but it is often difficult for the GP to know
what form of treatment would be best. The results of this trial will help doctors to
tailor treatment to the individual.”

GENPOD is funded by the Medical Research Council and the collaborating
universities are Cardiff and Oxford.

   2.   TREAD will examine whether exercise, in addition to antidepressants, can
        improve the outcome of their depression and alter their subsequent use of
        antidepressant medication.

        An important aspect of this trial will be that patients can chose their own form
        of exercise so that it fits in with their lifestyle. They will be encouraged to take
        charge of their own activity decisions, rather than be prescribed a particular
        form of exercise.

Dr Adrian Taylor, from the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health
Sciences, said: "I am very aware of the need to design physical activity programmes
that people will be motivated to do. Sending patients to a gym may work for some but
not for others. We must use our experience in helping people become more physically
active, through providing appropriate opportunities, choice and the right social
support and guidance."

TREAD is funded by the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme and the
collaborating universities are Exeter and the Peninsular Medical School.

More than 2.9 million people in the UK are diagnosed as having depression at any one
time. Up to another 8.7 million cases are neither recognised nor treated. There are
now over 25 million antidepressant prescriptions made each year in the UK, costing
the National Health Service (NHS) £80 million. Mental health problems, mainly
depression, account for about one third of all consultations with doctors. END

Notes to Editors

The Academic Units of Psychiatry and Primary Health Care at the University of
Bristol are world-leading centres for research and teaching. For more information see: and

Exeter University’s School of Sport and Health Sciences has an international
reputation for excellence in teaching and research. For further information see:

For information on all the trials on depression being run at the University of Bristol

GENPOD and TREAD are being run through the Mental Health Research Network
(MHRN) which involves 20 Universities and 38 NHS Trusts from across the country.
Researchers on projects adopted by the network benefit both from being able to
access high level expertise within the network and a coordinated approach to patient

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