Dr Michael Musker looks at the future of treating depression

23 Nov 2015
Dr Michael Musker looks at the future of treating depression

Knowing one in 10 Australians suffer from depression, SAHMRI researcher Dr Michael Musker wants to change the way we treat mental illness. 

He moved into clinical research after 30 years as a mental health nurse. 

“There are about 22 current antidepressants on the PBS system,” Dr Musker said. 

“Often when we use these medications in clinical practice, we’re not really sure which one is going to work for you. So many patients have to go through a number of changes in medication before they get the right one, which can be quite distressing.” 

The future is personalised medicine, where a simple blood test will guide a medical practitioner to select the best antidepressant for a smooth and speedy recovery. 

Dr Musker hopes South Australians of the future will also be better prepared to deal with stress through efforts to build resilience and improve wellbeing. 

“We’re trying to inoculate people from stress by developing a positive mental health model,” he said. 

“We use techniques like mindfulness and also just positive ways to think and feel better, and basically build resilience into your life.” 

The Wellbeing and Resilience Centre at SAHMRI uses the positive psychology approach of former Adelaide Thinker in Residence Professor Martin Seligman. 

The model “PERMA Plus” stands for Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment, plus Physical activity, Nutrition, Sleep and Optimism, to measure and build wellbeing, Dr Musker said. 

“The centre has been working across the Adelaide community for the past 18 months at places like Holden, schools and elderly services,” he said. 

Dr Musker’s job now is to interview people and diagnose specific types of depression, to determine how an individual’s genetic profile might determine their needs and suitability for specific drugs. 

“We’re developing an Australian genetic database for depression and we are seeking volunteers for this,” Dr Musker said. 

“We want both people who are well and people who have suffered depression. We are actively seeking research participants.” 

If you are interested in being involved with the mind and brain research, please get in touch.

Featured in The Advertiser Monday, 23 November 2015