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Nosology and disorders


Bipolar and depressive disorders

Unipolar depression is one of the most common and disabling mental disorders worldwide. One third of patients with depression do not respond to first-line treatment, contributing to the burden of mental disorders. Similarly, bipolar disorder is a severe and heterogenous disorder. Patients suffering from bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed causing a delay in adequate treatment. Despite great advances in basic research over the past decades, the precise causal mechanisms of these affective disorders at the transmitter, cellular, neural network or psycho-social level have so far not been unraveled. As a result, individual treatment decisions in patients with affective disorders cannot be tailor-made and the uncertain prognosis is based on clinical characteristics alone.

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following projects associated with bipolar and depressive disorders.




ISBD Task Force on antecedents of bipolar disorders 

ISBD Task Force on Chronobiology

ISBD Task Force on lithium in bipolar disorders​



Substance abuse disorders

​Substance abuse disorders are among the most strongly stigmatized, severe and debilitating mental disorders. Here, it is highly relevant to determine early detection methods and to identify vulnerability and risk indicators. To understand why people develop harmful behaviors that are difficult to change, we investigate action control, learning and decision making as biomarkers of compulsivity. Furthermore, potentially negatively connotated media portrayals shape public opinion and can serve to exacerbate that stigma and thus impede help-seeking and recovery. To counter this, the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at ULMC is therefore currently developing and implementing journalism guidelines for stigma-free media reporting on (people with) substance use disorders in the FairMediaSUCHT project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG). Moreover, the department is currently conducting studies on alcohol and stigma, focusing on the stigma of alcohol use disorder in comparison to other mental disorders, and the stigmatization of harmful alcohol consumption in comparison of countries with the WHO European region.

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following selected projects:

CRC 940



Anxiety disorders

​Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders observable in children, adolescents and adults. For example, social anxiety disorder shows an estimated mean lifetime prevalence between 7-12 percent worldwide. Our research shows a core analytic focus on early trajectories and conditions of mental disorders (esp. anxiety disorders) that are jointly responsible for the largest proportion of disability burden worldwide. The identification of early disease trajectories including comorbidity development as well as common and distinct risk and protective factors in anxiety disorders is highly relevant for designing timely preventive and early therapeutic interventions promising to impact on population health by reducing the overall incidence of mental disorders.

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following selected projects:


Fear of Progression in cancer patients​

Panik?! Was nun?



Suicidal behavior

​Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people of 15-25 years. Within the whole country, central Germany (esp. Saxony) shows the highest suicide rates historically over decades. The reasons for the increased suicide rates remain undiscovered. Despite mental disorders, global changes (epidemiologic, environmental, socio-economic) influence the risk of suicidal behavior. More importantly, the outcome of the COVID pandemic on suicide rates in the general population is uncertain - increasing rates are feared. Improving suicide research (causes, treatment and prevention) will help to improve clinical outcomes of several psychiatric disorders (over the lifespan).

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following selected projects:

Lithium und Suizidalität 



PSSP (Poststationäre Suizidprävention)​ 

Transdiagnostic research

​The core competence of Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig regarding nosology lies on affective disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use and suicidality. However, comorbidities are highly relevant with regard to multimodal, developmental and transdiagnostic research approaches and Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is open for cooperation with researchers who focus on other mental disorders, such as ADHD, tic-disorders/tourette syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and more.

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following projects:






NeFaH – Neuro Feedback at Home use



Q10 - Steigerung des Wohlbefindens bei Kindern mit ASS durch Unterstützung mittels Coenzym-Q10-reicher Ernährung​

VR –virtual world for ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

​ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood characterized by persistent symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. About 2-6 percent of all children and adolescents have been diagnosed with ADHD. The etiology of ADHD is complex and heterogeneous, with an essential genetic component and multiple neurobiological changes. Individuals affected by ADHD show functional psychosocial impairments in different settings such as family, school and peer groups. At least 75% of children and adolescents with ADHD develop a comorbid mental disorder, which impedes diagnosis and treatment and worsens prognosis.

The ADHS working group at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at ULMC has shown expertise in ADHS research. Projects include the VIP-ADHS-Study, which investigates whether EEG-vigilance regulation in adult ADHS patients is a predictor for response to psychostimulant therapy, and ADHS-PET-MRT, a study for the in-vivo-imaging and quantification of central norepinephrine transporter availability via PET-MRT in adult patients with ADHD compared to healthy controls.  

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following projects:

NeFaH–Neuro Feedback at Home use 


VR – virtual world for ADHD

Tic-disorders/tourette syndrome

Chronic tic-disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by motor and/or vocal tics that last at least 1 year with their first onset commonly occurring during childhood. Tic-disorders are often accompanied by other disorders (e.g. attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders) and often associated with a variety of psychosocial problems (e.g. social stigma, reduced quality of life). Despite a growing body of research on tic-disorders, their causes and pathophysiology are still insufficiently understood.

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following selected projects:



TICGenetics ​

Autism spectrum disorder

​Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong and highly cost-intensive neurodevelopmental disorder with a prevalence of 1% characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. The symptoms cause adverse functional outcomes (e.g. school and work) and therefore can have a significant impact on the quality of life of affected individuals, but also for caregivers. Seventy percent of individuals with ASD had at least one comorbid mental disorder. The etiology of ASD is multifactorial with genetic and environmental factors.

Mental Health Dresden-Leipzig is involved in the following selected projects:





Q-10 Steigerung des Wohlbefindens bei Kindern mit ASS durch Unterstützung mittels Coenzym-Q10-reicher Ernährung​

Prolonged grief disorder

​The Department of Psychosomatic Medicine at ULMC has wide expertise in research into psychotraumatology and prolonged grief disorder. Notable ongoing projects and studies in this regard include a study for the treatment of patients with prolonged grief disorder (PROGRID, DFG), the investigation of internet-based therapies for physicians with traumatic work-related experiences (IPSA) and the development and evaluation of a self-help app for traumatized Syrian refugees (HELP@APP). Past studies have focused on internet therapy after cancer or suicide-related loss of a relative, and for persons who have lost a child during pregnancy. Another methodological focus is on eye tracking in relation to recognizing emotional facial expressions and processes of early and late attention allocation to emotional information in clinical depression and alexithymia.






​The Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology (chair: Prof. Mehnert-Theuerkauf) at ULMC is active in psychooncology research. A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment have manifold effects on psychosocial health as well as the circumstances and quality of life - for patients and their relatives. Research at the department aims to gain a better understanding of the individual, familiar, social and societal factors and their interactions with disease and treatment-related burdens, and of their impact on psychosocial wellbeing and quality of life. Research at the department comprises a broad spectrum of issues that includes the psychosocial aspects of dealing and living with the disease and its health impact over the life-course, and spans the different phases of therapy from curative treatment (Cancer Survivorship) to supportive and palliative care. Ongoing projects include OnkoDigitrial (the provision of digital support  and guidance for cancer patients towards sustainable improvements in quality of life, funded by Fasanis GmbH), OptiScreen (optimized psychooncological care by means of an interdisciplinary care-provision algorithm, funded by Stiftung Deutsche Krebshilfe) and LUPE (longitudinal analysis of demand for psychooncological support among patients and their relatives, stratified by biopsychosocial determinants, funded by Stiftung Deutsche Krebshilfe).





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