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Michelle Craske delivers 128th UCLA Faculty Research Lecture focused on anxiety and depression risk factors and treatment

  • April 19, 2020
  • Sabrina Dunbar

Michelle Craske, PhD (psychology and psychiatry professor at UCLA and member of the Executive Committee of the Depression Grand Challenge) was the 128th recipient of the UCLA Academic Senate’s Faculty Research Lectureship for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

The award was first given in 1925 and recognizes distinguished faculty members for their outstanding records of accomplishment.  Michelle delivered her lecture titled “Anxiety and Depression: Risk Factors and Treatments” to a full crowd at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall on February 19, 2020.

To begin her lecture, Michelle shared that “depression affects our entire social fabric, from infant development to economic gains.” In a plug for research funding, Michelle shared with the audience, “In order for our treatments to work more effectively, we need to understand the engine driving [these diseases].”

Much of the lecture focused on Michelle’s research identifying risk factors for anxiety and depression to inform targeted treatments. Michelle presented on her research of positive affect treatment – a novel treatment intervention aimed at increasing patient’s ability to feel joy and pleasure. Most current treatment options focus on improving negative symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Craske’s focus on techniques designed to make patients more positive represents a paradigm shift for the field and is demonstrating to be more effective in decreasing patient’s anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal ideation.

The event concluded with a brief Q&A session, during which the audience inquired about Michelle’s research involving virtual reality and the technology used as part of UCLA’s Screening and Treatment for Anxiety and Depression (STAND) system of care pilot program.  

From a student’s perspective, Michelle Craske’s research is exciting because it brings together modern technology and innovative new approaches to addressing the shortfalls of mental health treatment. During her lecture, Michelle asked the audience to take out their smartphones and send a positive message to someone they love. My colleagues noted that it was special to hear the audience react in real time when they received positive messages back. The activity was an interesting demonstration of how technology like smartphones can be leveraged as tools to increase someone’s feelings of joy and pleasure, and made Michelle’s research with other technology like virtual reality easier to understand.

Read more at the events page.

Previous coverage:

Michelle Craske awarded 2019-2020 Faculty Research Lectureship by UCLA Academic Senate UCLA Grand Challenges, Apr. 26, 2019