Benicio Frey

Mood Disorders

Message from Academic Head of Service, Benicio Frey 

Mood disorders affect a significant portion of the Canadian population, estimated at four to five percent of all Canadians yearly, with associated major societal and economic costs. Indeed, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is associated with decreases in workplace productivity, loss of income, high use of disability services, and high health-care costs, impacting aversely the Canadian economy.  

The objective of the Mood Disorders Program is to offer comprehensive psychiatric assessments and evidence-based treatment recommendations for individuals coping with mood disorders.  


The Mood Disorders Program aims to promote the academic missions of McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton by integrating academic and clinical activities through research and education.

Our Impact

A recent key report, entitled: Opening Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report, indicates that, among all mental illness, depression has the highest impact on the life and health of Ontarians, with disease burden exceeding that of lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers combined.

Longitudinally, depression and bipolar disorder often result in reduced educational outcomes and gradually widening economic gaps among sufferers, pointing towards an urgent need to identify factors associated with the development and maintenance of mood disorders, and to intervene early in the course of illness. These intervention efforts will be aided by the identification of novel, evidence-based interventions, including those under development in the Mood Disorders Program.

Faculty Directory


Our faculty members are active teachers at McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, instructing both medical students and residents. The Mood Disorders Program also continues to reach out to community partners to offer educational opportunities in the form of workshops, courses, and rounds for both professionals and individuals affected by mood disorders.


The Mood Disorders Program offers comprehensive inpatient (24 beds) and outpatient clinical services. We work closely with other mental health services at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton including the Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre and the Women's Health Concerns Clinic to best serve the specific individual needs.

Clinical Initiatives

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is committed to making a difference in people’s lives and creating a lasting future for our community through integrated health services and internationally recognized programs. Our threefold mission is to provide dynamic research, revolutionary methods in health sciences education, and the highest standard of clinical care with an ethos of compassion. 

The success of St. Joseph’s Hamilton Healthcare’s current clinical program is mirrored by our ongoing research activities that further our abilities to treat patients safely and effectively. The vision of St. Joseph’s has been firmly laid in innovation and cutting edge research. We see research into the causes and treatments of mood disorders as a central part of our program’s mission. 

We continuously evaluate our programs for research purposes and to ensure the quality of the services we deliver are meeting patient needs. Various components of the program are evaluated in terms of satisfaction on a rotating basis. 

Notable Achievement

Canada’s first repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation laboratory was created in our program in 1997. Since its inception, our laboratory has trained staff who have taken this technology to their own programs in Ontario and other provinces in Canada.


Research in the Mood Disorders Program involves studies aimed at furthering our understanding of factors leading to the onset and maintenance of mood disorders, as well as the development and evaluation of new assessment methods and treatment approaches. Our research spans the cognitive, psychological and biological underpinnings of depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The overall goal of our research program is to improve quality of life and treatment outcomes in individuals struggling with mood disorders.

Research Initiatives
  • Neural and behavioural correlates of autobiographical memory for highly traumatic events in patients with mood disorders and/or PTSD 
  • Social cognition in patients with mood disorders and/or PTSD 
  • Brain imaging and peripheral biomarkers as predictors of treatment response in depression
  • Clinical and biological correlates of bipolar disorder and co-morbid premenstrual dysphoric disorder 
  • Cerebral intracortical myelin mapping in bipolar disorder 
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for major depressive disorder 
  • Machine learning applications to enhance the management of mood disorders 
  • Running group: Clinical and biological markers of response to exercise in depression
  • Out of the blues: A behavioural activation study in depression
  • The efficacy of a transdiagnostic behaviour therapy intervention for anxiety disorders 
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for OCD: Augmenting the effects of CBT 
  • An imaging study to understand brain chemistry and brain activity in pediatric OCD – Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders (POND) Network site 
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in unipolar and bipolar depression 
  • Self-care for healthcare professionals: Building resilience of employees using mindfulness-based interventions 
  • A prospective cohort study investigating the determinants of methadone treatment outcomes in patients with opioid addiction 
  • A case control study of suicidal behaviour risk factors
  • A randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of behavioural activation therapy for the treatment of depression
  • Knowledge synthesis studies comparing multiple treatment options for opioid addiction 
  • Sleep quality in inpatients pre- and post-introduction of private rooms 

Contact Us

We invite you to learn more about the Moods Disorders Program and the opportunities that are available at McMaster University. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Benicio Frey

Benicio Frey

Associate Professor

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