ECNP Depression Meta Network

Mission statement

ECNP Depression Meta NetworkDepression, a prevalent mental health disorder, holds the distinction of being the most impactful among all mental disorders in terms of disease burden. Affecting approximately 6% of the global population within the last year, depression's reach is substantial. Its implications are far-reaching, not only in terms of direct healthcare expenses but also due to its substantial indirect costs stemming from work-related absenteeism, presenteeism, and its effects on caregivers.

One of the distinctive aspects of depression is its wide-ranging heterogeneity, setting it apart from other mental disorders. In fact, "depression" could potentially be perceived as a transdiagnostic construct due to its complex nature, rather than a clear-cut diagnostic entity.

The pharmaceutical industry has witnessed noteworthy advancements in depression-related drug development in recent years. Compounds such as (es)ketamine, psychedelic medications, and neurosteroids have emerged, marking progress in this field. Moreover, novel neuromodulation approaches like rTMS and VNS are gaining prominence.

Within the ECNP, depression garners significant attention. Existing Networks and Thematic Working Groups (TWG) already focus on various facets of depression, making it a pivotal area of concern for diverse stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, patient and family organizations, and regulatory bodies.

To address these complexities, we have established the ECNP Depression Meta Network. This initiative embraces the diversity within the syndrome while acknowledging its significance. By connecting existing Network activities, we aim to bridge gaps and enhance our understanding of depression's multifaceted dimensions.


The overarching goal of the ECNP Depression Meta Network is to bring together leading (pre)clinical researchers, industry, regulators and patient representatives from Europe, and beyond, across various disciplines, to understand the aetiologies of the depressive syndrome and to improve its prevention, screening, diagnosis, early intervention as well as treatment across all stages and as a result, its outcome. Specifically, we aim to:

  • serve as a ‘hub’ for connecting different partners (clinicians, researchers, industry, regulators, patients, other stakeholders) in the field of depression;
  • collect and share information on ongoing, large-scale research projects and infrastructures focusing on depression in order to stimulate collaboration, integration and replication of research findings. Emphasis will also be on addressing the heterogeneity within depression, and identifying its relevant underlying symptom/behavioural/neurobiological dimensions;
  • obtain European grants and foster interactions with stakeholders and the ECNP community;
  • showcase the many depression research lines present in ECNP by cross-Network/TWG presentations, communication and discussions, e.g. at ECNP and other scientific meetings, online meetings and training activities.

These goals and specific aims will be achieved through:

  • providing a platform facilitating collaboration between researchers to perform international, multidisciplinary and multi-method research on depression;
  • organising cross-Network/TWG activities that bridge various research methods/lines in the field of depression;
  • influencing policy-makers, especially on the European level, to increase the funding and resources for mental health research in general as well as in depression specifically, by providing information on depression prevalence trends as well as prevention and treatment developments and opportunities;
  • collaborating with the industry involved in pharmacological as well as non-pharmacological (i.e. wearables, lifestyle/psychotherapy solutions, neurostimulation techniques) interventions for depression;
  • submission of collaborative international multi-centre study proposals to the EU Commission and/or other funding national and international agencies;
  • maximising generalisability of findings, maximising study power through sample sharing, and homogenisation of research protocols and (depression) concepts across different countries in line with FAIR regulations;
  • educating scientists, clinicians and the general public in innovative research methods and questions in the field of depression, as well as distribute, integrate and/or produce clinical guidance on how to prevent, screen for, and treat depression.