A group photo of the Mood Disorders Research Group.

The Mood Disorders Research Group focuses on investigations of bipolar disorder and other related affective and psychotic illnesses, such as schizoaffective disorder and postpartum psychosis.  Our broad aims are to investigate genetic and other factors that may contribute to the causes of these illnesses.  It is hoped that by increasing our understanding of these factors developments may be made in the prevention and treatment of these debilitating disorders.

Our research group co-founded the UK Bipolar Disorder Research Network with our current projects focussing on bipolar disorder, pregnancy and childbirth and True Colours a weekly mood monitoring tool for individuals with bipolar disorder. Over 1200 individuals with bipolar disorder and related mood disorders throughout the UK are contributing to our True Colours mood monitoring research initiative and we would like many more volunteers to join.

If you would like further information about any aspects of our research or about volunteering please contact us by clicking on the 'Contact Us' tab below. We would be delighted to hear from you.


About bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression or manic-depressive illness, refers to severe episodes of mood disturbance that affect a person’s ability to function normally. This occurs in at least 1% of the population. Bipolar disorder is characterised by disturbances in mood ranging from depression to elation (extremely high mood).

These mood changes may also be accompanied by alterations in thinking and perception, including psychotic features (delusions and hallucinations). Bipolar disorder can cause a great deal of suffering and, although treatments such as medication and psychotherapy are helpful, there are still many people who do not respond adequately or who suffer troublesome adverse side effects.

We know that there can be a variety of factors that lead some people to experience depression or mania, for example, a vulnerability that runs in the family or stressful life events. Our group is conducting research to examine more closely the factors which contribute to mood disorders. These include biological factors, such as a genetic predisposition, as well as psychological factors, such as characteristic ways of thinking, and environmental factors, for example stressful life events.

Our research, aimed at improving our understanding of mood disorders, will facilitate future advances in the prevention and treatment of these debilitating illnesses. 

Our research group

The members of our research group are:

Our current PhD students are:



bdrn-new-logo-largeWe founded the UK Bipolar Disorder Research Network with our colleagues at Cardiff University. With support from two of the world’s leading medical research charities, the Wellcome Trust and the Stanley Medical Research Institute, more than 7000 people have already participated in our research programme, which is now the largest individual such study anywhere in the world. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has taken part in our research – without their help the research simply would not happen. Every person who helps will bring the possibility of much-needed scientific advances nearer.

True Colours Mood Monitoring

Over 1200 individuals with bipolar disorder in the UK are taking part in our research initiative True Colours, answering weekly questions online about their mood and other factors known to play a role in the condition including sleep and activity levels.

The True Colours tool was originally designed by colleagues at the University of Oxford for use in a clinical setting and is proving to be invaluable in helping our research group learn more about how mood symptoms change over time in individuals with bipolar disorder and how they are affected by changes in routines. Participants themselves can personalise their questions and view their mood graphs to see changes and/or patterns in their mood.

This ongoing large project wouldn’t be possible without the help of our many BDRN supporters especially our BDRN Research Champions who have written articles and blogs to share their experiences of using True Colours.

The Mood Disorders Research Group is pleased to be able to offer True Colours to all BDRN participants and individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder living in the UK.

Please contact Dr Katherine Gordon-Smith for further information: moodresearch@worc.ac.uk; 01905 54 2880


Bipolar disorder, pregnancy and childbirth

For women with bipolar disorder, childbirth can be a high risk time of recurrence of mood disorder. Admission to psychiatric hospital with an episode of bipolar disorder is 23 times more likely in the month following delivery compared to any other time in a woman’s life. 

Unfortunately, the specific causes and triggers of mood episodes that occur in relation to childbirth are not well understood. However, we know that genetic factors, the big hormonal changes that occur after having a baby and sleep disruption may play an important role.

For many years our research group has had a particular interest in finding out more about the factors that make women with bipolar disorder more or less likely to experience episodes of illness in relation to childbirth.

We are currently carrying out research that we hope will lead to better prediction and treatments of these episodes.

 Who is invited to participate?

We would like to hear from you if:

  • You have bipolar disorder and are pregnant


  • You have bipolar disorder and have ever experienced an episode of postpartum psychosis or any other mood episode following childbirth that required hospital or home treatment

What does taking part involve?

Taking part in our research will involve an interview lasting around an hour and a half and we may ask if you would be willing to provide a small blood sample.

If you are pregnant, we will contact you again by telephone 3 months after childbirth to ask you about any symptoms you have experienced in relation to pregnancy and childbirth.

If you would like further information about taking part, please contact Dr Amy Perry for further information on 01905 54 2880 or by email: moodresearch@worc.ac.uk.

Contact us

If you would like further information about our research please get in touch.

Email: moodresearch@worc.ac.uk
Call: (+44) 01905 54 2880 (24 hr answer phone - if we do not answer please leave a message and we will reply very soon).

Mood Disorders Research Group
University of Worcester
Henwick Grove