skip to main content
Dr. Benicio Frey


Dr. Frey is a Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, Academic Head of the Mood Disorders Program, and Medical Director of the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare ( He completed his M.D. and specialization in Psychiatry at the FFFCMPA and Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Dr. Frey completed a Research Fellowship at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, working with brain imaging in bipolar disorder. Subsequently, Dr. Frey did a Postdoctoral Fellowship in brain imaging at the Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University), where he conducted a PET imaging study correlating serotonin synthesis and 5HT1A receptor binding in the human brain. Dr. Frey is also a former recipient of a CIHR fellowship award in women’s mental health. Currently, Dr. Frey has more than 200 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and his h-index is 42 according to the Web of ScienceTM, and 53 according to Google Scholar.

Featured Publications

For complete list of pubmed publications, click here. 

Frey BN, Vigod S, de Azevedo Cardoso T, Librenza-Garcia D, Favotto L, Perez R, Kapczinski F. The Early Burden of Disability in Individuals With Mood and Other Common Mental Disorders in Ontario, Canada. JAMA Netw Open 2020; 3(10):e2020213

Abu-Hijleh FA, Prashar S, Joshi H, Sharma R, Frey BN, Mishra RK. Novel mechanism of action for the mood stabilizer lithium. Bipolar Disord 2020 (In press)

Murray G, Gottlieb J, Hidalgo MP, Etain B, Ritter P, Skene DJ, Garbazza C, Bullock B, Merikangas K, Zipunnikov V, Shou H, Gonzalez R, Scott J, Geoffroy PA, Frey BN. Measuring circadian function in bipolar disorders: Empirical and conceptual review of physiological, actigraphic, and self-report approaches. Bipolar Disord 2020 (In press)

Uher R, Frey BN, Quilty LC, Rotzinger S, Blier P, Foster JA, Müller DJ, Ravindran AV, Soares CN, Turecki G, Parikh SV, Milev R, MacQueen G, Lam RW, Kennedy SH; CAN-BIND Investigator Team. Symptom Dimension of Interest-Activity Indicates Need for Aripiprazole Augmentation of Escitalopram in Major Depressive Disorder: A CAN-BIND-1 Report. J Clin Psychiatry 2020; 81(4):20m13229

Caropreso L, Saliba S, Hasegawa L, Lawrence J, Davey CJ, Frey BN. Quality assurance assessment of a specialized perinatal mental health clinic. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2020; 20(1):485

Suh JS, Minuzzi L, Raamana PR, Davis A, Hall GB, Harris J, Hassel S, Zamyadi M, Arnott SR, Alders GL, Sassi RB, Milev R, Lam RW, MacQueen GM, Strother SC, Kennedy SH, Frey BN. An investigation of cortical thickness and antidepressant response in major depressive disorder: A CAN-BIND study report. Neuroimage Clin 2020;25:102178

Dunlop K, Rizvi SJ, Kennedy SH, Hassel S, Strother SC, Harris JK, Zamyadi M, Arnott SR, Davis AD, Mansouri F, Schulze L, Ceniti AK, Lam RW, Milev R, Rotzinger S, Foster JA, Frey BN, et al. Clinical, behavioral, and neural measures of reward processing correlate with escitalopram response in depression: a Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND-1) Report. Neuropsychopharmacology 2020; 45(8):1390-1397

Zhdanov A, Atluri S, Wong W, Vaghei Y, Daskalakis ZJ, Blumberger DM, Frey BN, et al. Use of Machine Learning for Predicting Escitalopram Treatment Outcome From Electroencephalography Recordings in Adult Patients With Depression. JAMA Netw Open 2020; 3(1):e1918377

Nogovitsyn N, Muller M, Souza R, Hassel S, Arnott SR, Davis AD, Hall GB, Harris JK, Zamyadi M, Metzak PD, Ismail Z, Downar J, Parikh SV, Soares CN, Addington JM, Milev R, Harkness KL, Frey BN, et al. Hippocampal tail volume as a predictive biomarker of antidepressant treatment outcomes in patients with major depressive disorder: a CAN-BIND report. Neuropsychopharmacology 2020; 45(2):283-291

Green SM, Donegan E, McCabe RE, Streiner DL, Agako A, Frey BN. Cognitive behavioral therapy for perinatal anxiety: A randomized controlled trial. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2020; 54(4):423-432

Furtado M, Van Lieshout RJ, Van Ameringen M, Green SM, Frey BN. Biological and psychosocial predictors of anxiety worsening in the postpartum period: A longitudinal study. J Affect Disord 2019; 250:218-225

Davis AD, Hassel S, Arnott SR, Harris J, Lam RW, Milev R, Rotzinger S, Zamyadi M, Frey BN, et al. White Matter Indices of Medication Response in Major Depression: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 2019; 4(10):913-924​

Kennedy SH, Lam RW, Rotzinger S, Milev RV, Blier P, Downar J, Evans KR, Farzan F, Foster JA, Frey BN, et al. Symptomatic and Functional Outcomes and Early Prediction of Response to Escitalopram Monotherapy and Sequential Adjunctive Aripiprazole Therapy in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder: A CAN-BIND-1 Report. J Clin Psychiatry 2019; 80(2):18m12202

Slyepchenko A, Allega OR, Leng X, Minuzzi L, Eltayebani MM, Skelly M, Sassi RB, Soares CN, Kennedy SH, Frey BN. Association of functioning and quality of life with objective and subjective measures of sleep and biological rhythms in major depressive and bipolar disorder. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2019; 53(7):683-696

Sehmbi M, Rowley CD, Minuzzi L, Kapczinski F, Kwiecien JM, Bock NA, Frey BN. Age-related deficits in intracortical myelination in young adults with bipolar disorder type I. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2019; 44(2):79-88. 

Sehmbi M, Rowley CD, Minuzzi L, Kapczinski F, Steiner M, Sassi RB, Bock NA, Frey BN. Association of intracortical myelin and cognitive function in bipolar I disorder. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2018; 138(1):62-72. 

Syan SK, Minuzzi L, Smith M, Costescu D, Allega OR, Hall GBC, Frey BN. Brain Structure and Function in Women with Comorbid Bipolar and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Front Psychiatry 2018; 8:301.

Minuzzi L, Syan SK, Smith M, Hall A, Hall GB, Frey BN. Structural and functional changes in the somatosensory cortex in euthymic females with bipolar disorder. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2018; 52(11):1075-1083. 

Pasquali MA, Harlow BL, Soares CN, Otto MW, Cohen LS, Minuzzi L, Gelain DP, Moreira JCF,Frey BN. A longitudinal study of neurotrophic, oxidative, and inflammatory markers in first-onset depression in midlife women. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2018; 268(8):771-781.

Slyepchenko A, Frey BN, Lafer B, Nierenberg AA, Sachs GS, Dias RS. Increased illness burden in women with comorbid bipolar and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: data from 1099 women from STEP-BD study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2017; 136(5):473-482.

Lopez JP, Fiori LM, Cruceanu C, Lin R, Labonte B, Cates HM, Heller EA, Vialou V, Ku SM, Gerald C, Han MH, Foster J, Frey BN, et al. MicroRNAs 146a/b-5 and 425-3p and 24-3p are markers of antidepressant response and regulate MAPK/Wnt-system genes. Nat Commun 2017; 8:15497.

Syan SK, Minuzzi L, Costescu D, Smith M, Allega OR, Coote M, Hall GBC, Frey BN. Influence of endogenous estradiol, progesterone, allopregnanolone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate on brain resting state functional connectivity across the menstrual cycle. Fertil Steril 2017; 107(5):1246-1255.

Lake EMR, Steffler EA, Rowley CD, Sehmbi M, Minuzzi L, Frey BN, Bock NA. Altered intracortical myelin staining in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in severe mental illness. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2017; 267(5):369-376. 

MacQueen GM, Frey BN, Ismail Z, Jaworska N, Steiner M, Lieshout RJ, Kennedy SH, Lam RW, Milev RV, Parikh SV, Ravindran AV; CANMAT Depression Work Group. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) 2016 Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder: Section 6. Special Populations: Youth, Women, and the Elderly. Can J Psychiatry 2016;61(9):588-603. 

Krawczak EM, Minuzzi L, Simpson W, Hidalgo MP, Frey BN. Sleep, daily activity rhythms and postpartum mood: A longitudinal study across the perinatal period. Chronobiol Int 2016; 33(7):791-801.

Cudney LE, Frey BN, Streiner DL, Minuzzi L, Sassi RB. Biological rhythms are independently associated with quality of life in bipolar disorder. Int J Bipolar Disord 2016;4(1):9. 

Smith M, Frey BN. Treating comorbid premenstrual dysphoric disorder in women with bipolar disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2016;41(2):E22-3. 

Pinho M, Sehmbi M, Cudney LE, Kauer-Sant'anna M, Magalhães PV, Reinares M, Bonnín CM, Sassi RB, Kapczinski F, Colom F, Vieta E, Frey BN, Rosa AR. The association between biological rhythms, depression, and functioning in bipolar disorder: a large multi-center study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2016; 133(2):102-8

Rowley CD, Bazin PL, Tardif CL, Sehmbi M, Hashim E, Zaharieva N, Minuzzi L, Frey BN, Bock NA. Assessing intracortical myelin in the living human brain using myelinated cortical thickness. Front Neurosci 2015;9:396.

Williams ME, Becker S, McKinnon MC, Wong Q, Cudney LE, Steiner M, Frey BN. Emotional memory in pregnant women at risk for postpartum depression. Psychiatry Res 2015;229(3):777-83. 

Patel JP, Frey BN. Disruption in the Blood-Brain Barrier: The Missing Link between Brain and Body Inflammation in Bipolar Disorder? Neural Plast 2015;2015:708306. 

Green SM, Haber E, Frey BN, McCabe RE. Cognitive-behavioral group treatment for perinatal anxiety: a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health 2015;18(4):631-8.

Simpson W, Glazer M, Michalski N, Steiner M, Frey BN. Comparative efficacy of the GAD-7 and EPDS to screen for generalized anxiety disorder in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Can J Psychiatry 2014;59(8):434-40.

Cudney LE, Sassi RB, Behr GA, Streiner DL, Minuzzi L, Moreira JC, Frey BN. Alterations in circadian rhythms are associated with increased lipid peroxidation in females with bipolar disorder. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2014; 17(5):715-22.

Frey BN, Dias RS. Sex hormones and biomarkers of neuroprotection and neurodegeneration: implications for female reproductive events in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders 2014; 16(1):48-57.

Grande I, Magalhães PV, Chendo I, Stertz L, Fries GR, Cereser KM, Cunha ÂB, Gói P, Kunz M, Udina M, Martín-Santos R, Frey BN, et al. Val66Met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in bipolar disorder: an open-label trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2014; 129(5):393-400.

Frey BN, Andreazza AC, Frye MA, et al. Biomarkers in bipolar disorder: a positional paper from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Biomarkers Task Force. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2013; 47(4):321-32.

Yatham LN, Kennedy SH, Parikh SV, Shaeffer A, Beaulieu S, Alda M, O’Donovan C, MacQueen G, McIntyre RS, Sharma V, Ravindran A, Young LT, Milev R, Bond D, Frey BN, et al. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) collaborative update of CANMAT guidelines for the management of patients with bipolar disorder: update 2013. Bipolar Disorders 2013; 15(1):1-44.

Frey BN, Minuzzi L. Co-morbid bipolar disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Real patients, unanswered questions. Arch Womens Ment Health 2013; 16(1):79-81.

Truong W, Minuzzi L, Soares CN, Frey BN, et al. Changes in cortical thickness across the lifespan in major depressive disorder. Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 2013; 214(3):204-11.

Frey BN, Simpson W, Wright L, Steiner M. Sensitivity and specificity of the mood disorder questionnaire as a screening tool for bipolar disorder during pregnancy and the postpartum period. J Clin Psychiatry 2012; 73(11):1456-61.

Lokuge S, Frey BN, Foster JA, Soares CN, Steiner M. Neurobiological basis of depression in women: New insights into the link between estrogen and serotonin. J Clin Psychiatry2011; 72(11):1563-9.

Frey BN, Skelin I, Sakai Y, Nishikawa M, Diksic M. Gender differences in -[11C]MT brain trapping, an index of serotonin synthesis, in medication-free individuals with major depressive disorder: a positron emission tomography study. Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 2010; 183(2):157-66.

Frey BN, Hall G, Attard S, et al. Shift in the brain network of emotional regulation in midlife women: Is the menopausal transition the turning point? Menopause 2010; 17(4):840-5.

Matsuo K, Walls-Bass C, Nery FG, Nicoletti MA, Hatch JP, Frey BN, et al. Neuronal correlates of brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism and morphometric abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology2009; 34(8):1904-13.

Frey BN, Zunta-Soares GB, Caetano SC, et al. Illness duration and total brain gray matter in bipolar disorder: evidence for neurodegeneration? Eur Neuropsychopharmacology2008; 18(10):717-22.

Frey BN, Lord C, Soares CN. Depression during menopausal transition: a review of treatment strategies and pathophysiological correlates. Menopause International2008; 14(3):123-8.

Frey BN, Rosa-Neto P, Lubarsky S, Diksic M. Correlation between serotonin synthesis and 5-HT1Areceptor binding in the living human brain: a combined [11C]-αMT and [18F] MPPF positron emission tomography studyNeuroimage2008; 42(2):850-7.

Andreazza AC, Kauer-Sant’Anna M, Frey BN, et al. Oxidative stress markers in bipolar disorder: a meta-analysis. J Affect Disord 2008; 111(2-3):135-44.

Bearden CE, Thompson PM, Dutton RA, Frey BN, et al. Three-dimensional mapping of hippocampal anatomy in unmedicated and lithium-treated patients with bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology2008; 33(6):1229-38.

Frey BN, Walss-Bass C, Stanley JA, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor val66met polymorphism affects prefrontal energy metabolism in bipolar disorder. Neuroreport2007; 8(15):1567-1570.

Frey BN, Andreazza AC, Nery FG, et al. The role of hippocampus in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. Behav Pharmacol2007; 18(5-6):419-430.

Frey BN, Stanley JA, Nery FG, et al. Abnormal cellular energy and phospholipid metabolism in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of medication-free individuals with bipolar disorder: an in vivo 1H MRS study. Bipolar Disorders2007; 9(Suppl 1):119-127.

Tramontina J, Frey BN, Andreazza AC, et al. Val66met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in bipolar disorder. Molecular Psychiatry2007; 12(3):230-231.



  • Clinical Fellowship in Women’s Mental Health, McMaster University, Canada 
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in brain imaging, Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University), Canada
  • Research Fellowship, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, USA
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • M.Sc., Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • M.D., Psychiatry, FFFCMPA and Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil


Research Areas

This faculty member is a core member of the Research and Clinical Training (RCT) stream in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University. 

Cerebral mechanisms involved in the neurobiology of bipolar and major depressive disorder, with an emphasis in women’s mental health.

Study of brain imaging and peripheral biomarkers to understand the course and treatment of mood disorders (

Role of sleep and circadian rhythms in mood disorders and women’s mental health.


  • 2020 - University Scholar - McMaster University
  • ​2020​ - Excellence in Research Mentorship Award - Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences
  • 2016 - Highly Cited Article 2014 - 2015, Elsevier - European Psychiatry
  • 2014 - Early Research Award, Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario 
  • 2011 - Top Cited Article 2006 – 2010, Elsevier - Neuroscience Letters
  • 2010 - Rafaelsen Young Investigators Award, International College of Neuro-Psychopharmacology
  • 2009 - Young Investigator Travel Award, North American Menopause Society
  • 2009 - W.G. Dewhurst Travel Award, Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • 2008 - Father Sean O'Sullivan Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
  • 2008 - CIHR/Rx&D Fellowship Award, Canadian Institutes of Health Research 
  • 2007 - Research Colloquium for Junior Investigators, American Psychiatric Association
  • 2006 - Samuel Gershon Junior Investigator Awards, International Society for Bipolar Disorders
  • 2003 - Young Psychiatrist Award, Brazilian Psychiatric Association

© 2018 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | 905-525-9140 | Contact Us | Terms of Use & Privacy Policy