Monash leads breakthrough in treating anxiety and depression

Pioneered by researchers at Monash University, a promising new, ‘whole person’ approach to the treatment of anxiety and depression has been developed in an effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of current treatment, and further improve the lives of those who are living with  these, and similar, mental health disorders.

According to national surveys, anxiety and depressive disorders are among the most prevalent mental health diagnoses in Australia, and 60 to 70 per cent of people with anxiety or depression have multiple diagnoses. An estimated 84.3 per cent of individuals with an anxiety or related disorders do seek  treatment from a healthcare provider, but only 23.2 per cent receive appropriate evidence-based psychosocial or pharmacological intervention.

While diagnosis-specific cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) interventions have generally shown to be effective in treating multiple diagnoses in approximately 40 per cent of cases, the remaining 60 per cent continue to experience one or more clinically severe anxiety, depression, or related diagnoses  despite receiving a full course of evidence-based CBT.

Following the discovery of considerable genetic, neurological, developmental, behavioural and cognitive data, which suggested commonalities across anxiety and related disorders, transdiagnostic CBT interventions have been developed to form a new approach to treatment.

This new, transdiagnostic, disorder-independent approach considers the biological, physical and psychological symptoms, targeting the person and their emotional difficulties as a whole to deliver tailored treatment. This, in part, improves patient access by reducing therapist training demands - training  in one intervention for multiple diagnoses - and effects better simultaneous outcomes on multiple diagnoses by targeting core common features rather than diagnosis-specific elements.

Professor Peter Norton is the Director of Translational Research at the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN). He is also one of two developers of the transdiagnostic treatment model, and was Guest Editor of a recently published, special edition of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, focussing on transdiagnostic approaches.

“As well as providing better treatment for those experiencing anxiety and other emotional disorders, transdiagnostic treatments offer a number of appealing advantages to the mental health field. These include conceptual advantages such as better matching research-driven models of mental health  problems, healthcare system advantages such as improved ease of dissemination, and basic clinical advantages such as improvements in the ability to address comorbidity – that is, the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with the primary disorder;,” Professor  Norton said.

Professor Norton and his team provide a public service for those over the age of 18 experiencing anxiety, depression and other similar emotional disorders. The FEAR Clinic, housed within the Monash Psychology Centre, is adopting the transdiagnostic approach, meaning that those who attend are first-in-line to benefit from this new ground-breaking approach to treatment.

“Our highly trained and qualified clinicians have altered their perspective and treatment approach - from using a diagnosis-specific mechanism to reduce diagnosis-related symptoms, to one centred around using a broad process to improve an individual’s quality of life,” Professor Norton  said.

For further information about the transdiagnostic approach to anxiety and depression, Professor Peter Norton can be contacted at:

Professor Peter Norton


About the FEAR Clinic

If you are experiencing any level of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety, excessive or uncontrollable worry, obsessive-compulsive problems, post-traumatic stress or depression, then the FEAR Clinic may be able to help. We are a specialty treatment and research clinic housed within    the Monash Psychology Centre, and our doors are open to anyone over the age of 18. Contact us today to schedule your initial assessment.


The Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN) is the largest Institute of its type in the Asia Pacific, uniting over 200 world-class researchers with cutting-edge research infrastructure. We are dedicated to understanding the brain and mind; specifically in addiction, attention    and memory, and sleep. Our research and education programs are delivered in collaboration with clinical and industry partners, and through our Graduate Education and Industry Centre, we are the only research intensive University who offers a program that directly links psychology and neuroscience graduate    students to industry.

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