Mood disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disease), and geriatric depression, are common, debilitating disorders that not only impact mood and emotion, but also affect the afflicted person’s ability to eat, sleep, and experience normal sexual drives. If sufficiently severe, they can cause marked impairment in cognition, occupational functioning, social activities and relationships with others. In addition to these profound sources of morbidity, affective disorders may result in mortality through suicide. The burden of affective disorders on families and the costs to society are tremendous. The pathophysiology of these disorders remains unclear, and further study is necessary to identify the underlying areas of abnormal brain function in this spectrum of disease. The FNL has designed and performed functional neuroimaging studies to probe key brain circuits and functions in major depression, bipolar disorder and geriatric depression. The results of these studies have increased our understanding of the pathophysiology of affective disorders, and are a prerequisite for the development of new, targeted biological therapies that are being developed.
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