ADOLESCENT DEPRESSION: detecting and controlling depression in adolescents


One of the most common but also most life-threatening conditions facing young Australians is adolescent-onset depression. Depression occurring at this age may be transient but it may also be the first sign of a much more serious psychiatric illness such as persistent clinical depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), psychosis or schizophrenia.
The search for diagnostic tests that can accurately predict the risk of a young person developing a more serious condition is one of the most urgent and clinically-significant in this key health area. Recent advances in brain imaging demonstrate brain changes in those young people who have developed one of the more serious conditions.

The project

Our current program of research has moved to development of new strategies and techniques that can be applied before the onset of the full-blown mental health condition or to track the response of the young person to appropriate psychological or medical treatment. The goal is the development of diagnostic and predictive tools for individuals, particularly young people with depression.


We are at the forefront of this research internationally; however, we urgently need funding to apply the technology to most young people who come to us for clinical care. With sufficient funding we have the capacity to introduce these techniques into regular clinical practice within the next five years and improve the lives of many thousands of our young people.

Fundraising target: $750,000 (three years)

Project leaders: Professor Ian Hickie, Director, Brain & Mind Research Institute, the University of Sydney and Dr Elizabeth Scott, Brain & Mind Research Institute, the University of Sydney.


"Early intervention is the best hope for young people to recover from adolescent depression. I urge all Australians to support research into this vital field being conducted at the University of Sydney’s Brain & Mind Research Institute."

Professor Pat McGorry
Australian of the Year 2010 and graduate of Sydney Medical School

Professor Patrick McGorry is a leading international researcher, clinician and advocate for the youth mental health reform agenda. He is Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health (OYH), a world-renowned mental health organisation for young people that has put Australia at the forefront of innovation in the prevention and treatment of mental illness. Professor McGorry is also a founding board member of headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation.