Connected projects

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) funds NSMD within its Gravity programme. In addition, the NSMD consortium seeks to fund content-related projects through other sources. Several NSMD consortium members have been successful in securing funding for subprojects within NSMD or projects that are substantively related. All projects connected to NSMD study the network approach to psychopathology.

On this page you will find an overview of projects connected to NSMD. 

Life meaning as a central factor in eating disorders and comorbid symptomatology

Researcher: Franziska Schutzeichel
Funding: Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (University of Groningen)
Description: The DSM-5 classification of eating disorders (EDs) is facing issues regarding symptom overlap, both between specific ED diagnoses and between EDs and other types of disorders. The current project  focusses on (low) meaning in life as a promising yet largely ignored factor that may help improve the understanding of EDs and their comorbidities. When individuals struggle to obtain intrinsically valued goals (i.e., meaning in life), they potentially feel inadequate and worthless. This might cause them to turn towards regulating their eating and weight as a source of feeling self-worthy and in control. This idea corresponds with the meaning-making model of EDs (Marco et al., 2020): while eating- and weight-regulation are providing the individual with life meaning in the short-term, in the long-term this does not provide a positive and satisfying goal engagement. Moreover, as individuals often cannot obtain their thin-ideal or control their eating patterns successfully, their feelings of ineffectiveness and a lack of life meaning may persist or even be reinforced, which in turn might help explain the development of EDs and comorbid internalizing symptoms. The current project examines if indeed low meaning in life is a crucial factor in EDs and their comorbidities by assessing its relationship to other symptoms by means of network analyses, and will subsequently test the translational implications of (low) meaning in life as a central factor in EDs and their comorbid symptomatology.  
Duration: 2022 – 2026

WARN-D: developing an early warning system for depression in students

Researcher: Eiko Fried, PhD
Funding: European Research Council Starting Grant
Description: Experts agree that prevention is the most effective way to change depression’s global disease burden. The biggest barrier to successful prevention is to identify people at risk for depression in the near future — something that’s not possible at the moment. The team will try to solve the challenge who should receive prevention, and when, by developing the personalized early warning system WARN-D. For this, 2,000 young adults will be followed over 2 years, and emerging theoretical, measurement, and modelling approaches from different scientific fields so far unconnected will be integrated. The network approach to psychology, co-developed by Fried, is one of the pillars of the project, next to Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) data collection via smartphones and the use of dynamical network models. 
More info: 
Duration: 2021-2026

Understanding Overweight and Obesity: The end of Average (VICI)

Researcher: Prof. Anne Roefs
Funding: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)
Description: This project evolves around how predictors of overweight differ across people, and if the effectiveness of an intensive lifestyle intervention -on the short and longer term—depends on individual profiles of these predictors, including person characteristics, biological, psychological, environmental, and behavioral variables.. Moreover, the project will investigate if and how these profiles may translate to daily lifestyle behavior. Using an activity tracker physical activity throughout the day is assessed, and using a smartphone app, questions about (un)healthy eating behavior and variables that can affect these behaviors (e.g., stress) are asked multiple times per day. Does daily lifestyle behavior become healthier after the intervention and does it relate to weight change? This research takes an important step towards personalized interventions.
More info:
Duration: September 2022 – September 2027

Transdiagnostic Symptom Networks in Eating and Weight Disorders

Researcher: Mila Dix
Funding: Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN) at Maastricht University

Description: In this project, eating disorders (i.e., anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder) and weight disorders (i.e., obesity) will be viewed on a continuum to better understand these conditions and their symptoms. There is a lot of overlap in symptoms between eating and weight disorder patients, frequent cross-over between the conditions, and many comorbidities with other mental disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety). Moreover, there are also huge differences in symptoms within an eating disorder diagnosis. To overcome these issues, this study will use a transdiagnostic approach to map symptom networks of eating and weight disorder patients. This approach considers not only symptoms specifically related to the eating or weight disorder, but also other mental symptoms such as stress, mood, emotions, impulsivity, etc. Obesity will be included on this continuum, seeing that these people often experience eating disorder symptoms like disordered eating and dissatisfaction with one’s body or even disturbed body images. More specifically, the second focus of this study will be on the effect of bariatric surgery. This will be in collaboration with the Dutch Obesity Clinic in Heerlen, where predictors of suboptimal weight loss after bariatric surgery will be studied by using these symptom networks.|
Duration: March 2023 – March 2027

When the past haunts the future: Towards a mechanistic understanding of intrusive thoughts

Researcher: Linos Vossoughi
Funding: Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam

Description: Intrusive thoughts and images are prevalent across various psychological disorders. Such intrusions can range from involuntary memories of a distressing experience in the past, to images and thoughts of an event – imagined or real – in the future. Like past-oriented intrusions, future-oriented intrusions may be rooted in past experiences, but so far we know little about the shared and unique mechanisms underlying these types of intrusions. Understanding their mechanisms, and how they relate to other symptoms, could inform novel treatment approaches. In this project, we will analyse experience sampling data from a large clinical sample as part of NSMD, and conduct experimental lab studies, to better understand the nature of different types of intrusions and the conditions under which they occur. Using a dynamic network approach, we will assess whether temporal orientation distinguishes intrusions across different disorders and whether intrusions possibly activate other symptoms. Parallel to developing a mechanistic understanding of intrusive thoughts, we will explore the feasibility and utility of tracking intrusions in clinical practice.
Duration: 11/2023 – 05/2028