Highlights from ECNP 2022 – Day 3 – October 17th

Welcome to Progress in Mind’s live coverage of ECNP 2022. The 35th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology continued today October 17th, 2022, with a full agenda of symposia, educational updates, campfire sessions, Hot Topics and Poster Jam sessions. Sessions covered schizophrenia and major depression, overcoming barriers to care and managing treatment resistance. Top Papers in brain imaging and anxiety disorders were presented and a ‘Love Your Brain’ session set out strategies to overcome brain fog. Today’s plenary lectures explored the psychobiology of exhaustion and gave novel insights into immune-brain interactions. Here is a summary of today’s (Day 3) highlights from this magnificent motivational Monday in Vienna.

Overcoming barriers to improve patient care

  • Both schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (MDD), when inadequately managed, have a detrimental effect on the daily lives and aspirations of patients.
  • The importance of timely diagnosis and early implementation of management strategies were identified,1,2 along with patient- and clinician-related reasons for therapeutic inertia.
  • Strategies to overcome barriers to early recognition and promote optimal care were proposed to improve the lives of patients with MDD and schizophrenia.

“Stopping antipsychotic treatment is by far the strongest predictor of relapse in schizophrenia and the psychosocial consequences can be very, very serious.” – Professor Robin Emsley, Cape Town, South Africa


Schizophrenia and depression at the forefront

Multiple sessions examined neuroscience research and clinical challenges in schizophrenia and depression including;

  • a review of neural circuit biology and neuropharmacology related to unmet needs in schizophrenia
  • cognitive deficits in MDD associated with alterations in the structural network of the brain
  • effects of immune and metabolic dysfunction on brain circuits in depression
  • closing the translational gap between preclinical and clinical research to furnish novel treatments in psychosis
  • disentangling the complexity of treatment-resistant depression, providing practical guidance on how to assess patients and select the most appropriate treatment

“People with treatment-resistant depression who show an early response, within the first 2 weeks, to augmentation treatment go on to have a good subsequent treatment outcome.” – Professor Anthony Cleare, London, UK


A diverse array of research highlights

The various symposia, educational and campfire sessions, hot topics and posters delivered a diverse array of research including;

  • Exploration of the economic burden of mental health disorders and costs associated with physical comorbidities of mental illnesses.
  • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social isolation and mental health outcomes.
  • The cognitive sequelae of recreational drug use and risk for psychosis, depression and suicidal behavior in young people.
  • Genomic studies on psychotropic medications that provide insights into the molecular components of clinical outcomes in psychiatric disorders.

People with mental health disorders have worse physical health than the general population and risk exclusion from work and poor work performance, with significant economic impact


A star rises from the flames

Among the many though-provoking campfire sessions held today, a highlight was the discussion of comorbidities of major depression led by Dr Liubov Kalinichenko, recipient of a Rising Star award. The strong interconnection of major depression with other psychiatric and peripheral disease symptoms occurs as a consequence of multiple bidirectional pathways with a shared molecular base.


Major depression comorbid with other diseases, including anxiety, substance use disorder, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, results in poorer health related quality of life and increased mortality

Plenary lectures – burnout and immune-brain interactions

Professor Marie Asberg, winner of the 2022 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award, gave a lecture revealing novel insights into the psychobiology of exhaustion. An expert on burnout, Professor Asberg described how prolonged stress leads to exhaustion disorder that often coexists with symptoms of depression and anxiety.3

Dr Jonathan Kipnis’ plenary lecture focused on elucidating complex interactions between the immune and central nervous systems. Mechanistic study of the nature of neuroimmune interactions has broad implications ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.

Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.


  1. Emsley R et al. Symptom recurrence following intermittent treatment in first-episode schizophrenia successfully treated for 2 years: a 3-year open-label clinical study. J Clin Psychiatry 2012;73:e541–e547.
  2. Taylor RW, et al. Predictors of response to augmentation treatment in patients with treatment-resistant depression: A systematic review. J Psychopharmacol 2019;33:1323–39.
  3. Besèr A, et al. Construction and evaluation of a self-rating scale for stress-induced Exhaustion Disorder, the Karolinska Exhaustion Disorder Scale. Scand J Psychol. 2013;55(1):72–82.