The underlying neurobiology of key functional domains in young people with mood and anxiety disorders: A systematic review

Frank Iorfino, Ian B. Hickie, Rico S.C. Lee, Jim Lagopoulos, Daniel F. Hermens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Mood and anxiety disorders are leading causes of disability and mortality, due largely to their onset during adolescence and young adulthood and broader impact on functioning. Key factors that are associated with disability and these disorders in young people are social and economic participation (e.g. education, employment), physical health, suicide and self-harm behaviours, and alcohol and substance use. A better understanding of the objective markers (i.e. neurobiological parameters) associated with these factors is important for the development of effective early interventions that reduce the impact of disability and illness persistence. Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature for neurobiological parameters (i.e. neuropsychology, neuroimaging, sleep-wake and circadian biology, neurophysiology and metabolic measures) associated with functional domains in young people (12 to 30 years) with mood and/or anxiety disorders. Results: Of the one hundred and thirty-four studies selected, 7.6% investigated social and economic participation, 2.1% physical health, 15.3% suicide and self-harm behaviours, 6.9% alcohol and substance use, whereas the majority (68.1%) focussed on clinical syndrome. Conclusions: Despite the predominance of studies that solely examine the clinical syndrome of young people the literature also provides evidence of distinct associations among objective measures (indexing various aspects of brain circuitry) and other functional domains. We suggest that a shift in focus towards characterising the mechanisms that underlie and/or mediate multiple functional domains will optimise personalised interventions and improve illness trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number156
Number of pages38
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Biomarkers
  • Bipolar
  • Depression
  • Functional outcomes
  • Neurobiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Personalised psychiatry

Cite this