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- faculteit der gedrags- en bewegingswetenschappen ( biologische psychologie )
My PhD research focused on the genetic factors underlying migraine, and the relationship between migraine and depression, which frequently co-occur. During this work I realised that migraine was not the only pain disorder that co-occurs with depression. Depressed patients report an incredibly high prevalence of pain symptoms, and often they have pain in multiple body sites. Remarkably, little is known about why this happens. Do people get depressed because they are in pain? Or could it be that pain is in fact a symptom of depression, as some authors have suggested? This is the main question I will focus on in the next few years.
Recently, I finished a large new wave of data collection at the Netherlands Twin Registry, covering depression, anxiety, migraine and pain symptoms in a variety of anatomical sites. With these data, we can systematically investigate the genetic architecture of (chronic) pain at the general population level, as well as the relationship between pain and depression. This project is a collaboration with the prof. A. de Jongh of the Academic Center for Dentistry (ACTA), who is interested in the genetic factors underlying dental anxiety. For more information on this project, see www.tweelingenregister.org/lijst9
I also collaborate with prof. Brenda Penninx of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA), to investigate the epidemiology of pain in clinically depressed patients. Furthermore, as a department we participate in large international consortia to perform large genome-wide association analysis for migraine.