Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression - (GLAD) study

Depression and anxiety affect about 30 per cent of people during their lifetime, worldwide. They often co-occur, and a third of patients will not find a satisfactory treatment.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) project was set up to support studies exploring genetic and environmental risk factors for depression and/or anxiety, and their treatment.

GLAD was launched in September 2018, followed by widespread media coverage, and highly successful recruitment via social media, and adding 249 NHS recruitment sites.

Over 47,000 participants

By October 2021, 47,000 participants have completed enrolled and consented online, and about 28,000 have provided DNA samples, with a target of more than 40,000 DNA samples by 2025. All participants are re-contactable for future research. Anyone living in the United Kingdom, who is over 16 years old can sign up.

Participants answer questionnaires and give saliva DNA sample. Data and sample collection is organised by the BioResource for Mental Health theme at the Maudsley BRC and the central NIHR BioResource.

Ensuring diversity

The GLAD Study actively seeks underrepresented groups to better represent the communities where depression or anxiety is currently under studied, and welcomes participation from individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds.  

We partnered in designing and publicising GLAD with several charities and mental health organisations including Mind, MQ Mental Health Research, the British Psychological Society, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Anxiety UK, LGBT-HERO, Rethink Mental Illness, and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust.  Unusually for a resource of this nature we recruited most from areas with high levels of deprivation.

This careful design has meant the study has been well received by those with lived experience of anxiety and depression:

I am so happy to see that this research is being done...THANK YOU!

“a really well-designed questionnaire

The website and survey is excellent. Very clear and easy to complete. Thanks!

Future efforts include specific recruitment of individuals unaffected by psychiatric disorders to act as a comparision group, and focus groups with participants to optimise the research experience of underrepresented groups.

In 2021 GLAD featured as as case study in UK Policy paper 'Saving and Improving Lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery

International collaboration

The Australian Study of Depression Genetics is a sister study using the same questionnaires to boost sample sizes. One of the first studies we are working on is to design and test models predicting response to psychological therapy or medication. We also plan to combine our genetic data with international consortia to conduct analyses to identify potential new therapeutic targets.



Developing Resources for Research | National and International Collaboration | Personalising Treatment to Patients