Dr Omid Ebrahimi

Subject: Experimental Psychology

Academic position: Senior Demy

I am a Career Development Research Fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. My research focuses on the development and maintenance of common mental health disorders (i.e. depression and anxiety) using longitudinal, multi-level, and systems-based approaches.

In particular, I examine how critical incidents occurring at the national and global level (e.g., infectious disease outbreaks, climate change, and economic recession) impact the development of common mental disorders and can alter human behaviour toward the impoverishment of health.

As the Principal Investigator of the Critical Incidents and Psychological Adaptation (CIPA) study, a prospective longitudinal investigation following over 20,000 individuals for the next 15 years (and 1 million individuals through population registries), I am committed to identify pathways through which adverse societal events increase the risk of mental disorders.

A large proportion of this research relies on understanding the granular mechanisms that lead to mental disorder onset. Therefore, I primarily design large-scale longitudinal and intensive longitudinal studies that enable the study of sequential dynamical processes that predict disorder emergence and explain its maintenance. As a clinical psychologist, my hope and aim for this research is to obtain more precise insights and granular targets for how we can prevent and treat depression and anxiety.

Given the multifactorial nature of mental disorders, my research integrates variables across the biopsychosocial spectrum, leveraging a complex system and network analytic approach to study mental health. Similarly, I study adverse health-related behaviours (e.g. vaccine hesitance and climate inaction) using a systems-oriented approaches.

Previously, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I led a large-scale population study with more than 10,000 individuals to investigate the impact of social containment policies on mental health, with a particular focus on identifying subgroups of individuals that were most strongly affected by these policies. This work is continuing together with colleagues from Harvard University and elsewhere across the globe, where we aim to identify strategies that effectively mitigate infectious spread while simultaneously safeguarding against adverse mental health impacts.

Before joining Oxford, I studied at The University of Hong Kong, Bergen, and UC Berkeley. Later, I enrolled in the double-degree PhD program at the University of Oslo, which I partially undertook at the University of Amsterdam.

Beyond my day-to-day research, I view the communication of research as one of the most vital tasks of scientists, and have been fortunate to be featured in over 70 news reports including national televisionradionewspapers, and scientific documentaries.

Selected Publications:

Ebrahimi, O.V., Borsboom, D., Hoekstra, R., Epskamp, S., Ostinelli, E.G., Bastiaansen, J.A., & Cipriani, A. (2024). Towards precision in the diagnostic profiling of patients: leveraging symptom dynamics as a clinical characterisation dimension in the assessment of major depressive disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 224, 157–163. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2024.19

Ebrahimi, O.V. (2023). Systems-based thinking in psychology and the mental health sciences. Nature Reviews Psychology, 2, 332. https://www.nature.com/articles/s44159-023-00193-w

Shen*, Q., Joyce*, E., Ebrahimi*, O.V., Didriksen*, M., …, Johnson†, S.U, Fang†, F., Valdimarsdóttir†, U.A.. (2023). COVID-19 illness severity and over 2-year prevalence of physical symptoms: an observational study in Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Lancet Regional Health-Europe, 35, 1-12. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanepe/article/PIIS2666-7762(23)00175-8/

*Joint first-author.

Ebrahimi, O.V., Burger, J., Hoffart, A., & Johnson, S.U. (2021). Within and across-day patterns of interplay between depressive symptoms and related psychopathological processes: A dynamic network approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Medicine, 19, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-021-02179-y

Ebrahimi, O.V., Bauer, D.J., Hoffart, A., & Johnson, S.U. (2022). A critical period for pandemic adaptation: The evolution of depressive symptomatology in a representative sample of adults across a 17-month period during COVID-19. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science, 131(8), 881-894. https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2023-15400-006

Ebrahimi, O.V. (2022). Why scientific conferences must mitigate structural barriers. Nature Human Behaviour, 6(8), 1032–1033. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-022-01417-4