My long-term goal is to explicate risk factors associated with early stages of depression and suicidal risk in an effort to more effectively intervene. By adolescence, approximately 10 to 15% of the population will experience a clinical depression. Early onset depression tends to be accompanied by a more severe course of subsequent illness and is associated with considerable morbidity (e.g., suicidal behavior). Efforts to target children at risk for depression, prior to or early on in the disease process are thought to be favorable approaches to facilitating adaptation and minimizing risk. To this end, my work has utilized developmental and neuroscience approaches that examine the stress/emotion regulatory systems implicated in depression.
Recent work has focused on systems known to be critical to emotion/stress regulation including the assessment of key front-limbic neurocircuitry (e.g., using imaging techniques) and associated physiological (e.g., HPA axis) systems.
A second theme of my research pertains to identifying factors that potentially modify these risk trajectories and have the potential to influence neurobiological regulatory processes that are disrupted in depressed youth (e.g., parenting emotion socialization practices, psychosocial prevention efforts).