Jonathan Davidson received his medical training at University College Hospital Medical School, London. He received his psychiatric training at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. He joined the UNC faculty in 1972 and then moved to Duke University in 1978, where he has served on the faculty ever since. Between 1982 and 1987, he was a Staff Psychiatrist at the Durham VA Medical Center. While there, he established a research program in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.
His interests include the study of depression, anxiety, PTSD, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), homeopathy, spirituality, resilience and psychiatric biography, including the mental health of political leaders. He has conducted pioneer research into use of the MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) drugs. In 1987, he established the Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Program at Duke University. The research and training activities of that program encompassed clinical psychopharmacology trials, comparisons of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy for anxiety and PTSD, neurobiology, clinical psychometrics and the development of new scales. Dr. Davidson’s group has investigated the concept of resilience and its relation to therapy. He and his colleagues have completed a number of controlled trials of CAM, including herbal and nutritional supplement. These were funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). One of these NCCAM-funded studies was the landmark multicenter trial of St. John’s wort in major depression.
His research and teaching activities have addressed resilience, transcultural aspects of mass trauma, the establishment of web-based treatment algorithms for PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and the effect of drug therapy and psychotherapy in depression and anxiety disorders. He has also published a number of peer-reviewed papers on the topic of mental illness and elected heads of government, including the well-cited article in Brain on Hubris, which he co-authored with Lord Owen.
Among the 13 books he has authored or co-authored are Herbs for the Mind, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis, Management and Treatment, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: DSM-IV and Beyond, The Anxiety Book, Downing Street Blues: A History of Depression and Other Mental Disorders in British Prime Ministers, A Century of Homeopaths: Their Influence on Medicine and Health, and the two-volume Institute of Medicine report on PTSD in the military and veterans. In addition, Dr. Davidson has over 480 peer-reviewed publications, 70 book chapters, 800 talks and presentations, 200 abstracts and experience as an expert witness in PTSD-related cases.
Among the honors Dr. Jonathan Davidson has received are Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (United Kingdom), Distinguished Fellowship of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellowship of the ACNP, the Eugene A. Hargrove Award from the NC Psychiatric Association, and the Adolf Meyer Research Award from the American Psychiatric Association. For many years, he was on the Board of Directors of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA). He served as co-chair of the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV working group for PTSD. He has served on two Institute of Medicine committees. In 2016, he was invited as the Black Family Visiting Professor Fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand. There, he was plenary speaker at the post-earthquake conference People in Disasters held in Christchurch that same year.
Dr. Jonathan Davidson and his colleagues have developed scales to assess symptoms of atypical depression, PTSD, social anxiety (social phobia), generalized anxiety, antidepressant side effects (SOSS or Severity of Symptoms Scale), wellness, trauma exposure, eastern and western concepts of spirituality, constitutional type (derived from the homeopathic literature) and resilience. All of these scales have been psychometrically validated and presented in the medical literature.