We are currently conducting several studies on depression. We are interested in certain proteins in the blood that may be signs of depression. We are also interested in decision-making in depressed adults. Our current studies will allow us to address these questions. Both of these studies provide compensation and are accepting depressed individuals as well as healthy volunteers. The decision-making study also includes treatment for depression. Please click below for information about current studies, which include:
We are also conducting a study evaluating the effectiveness of a new treatment for major depression. This study is for those who have undergone prior treatment but have not gotten better. As part of this study, we are examining the efficacy of low-field magnetic stimulation (similar to an MRI) for reducing depressive symptoms.
For all of our studies, participants will receive a psychiatric evaluation, physical exam, and laboratory tests at no cost.
How to Participate
If you are interested in participating in our depression study, please click here to fill out a questionnaire. Once it is received, you will be contacted by a member of our staff. You can also contact us directly at 404-778-MOOD(6663).
Clinical depression is more than the typical feelings of sadness that occur in response to negative events. Clinical depression includes emotional, cognitive (thinking), physical, and behavioral symptoms that last longer than two weeks. Emotional symptoms include sadness, irritability, and anxiety, as well as decreased enjoyment and interest. Cognitive symptoms include ideas of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness, as well as difficulties with concentration and memory. Hopelessness can lead to suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. Physical symptoms, such as decreased energy and sleep and appetite changes, can initially be mistaken for a general medical condition. Behavioral symptoms include crying, irritable behavior, social withdrawal, and decreased activity and productivity.
Clinical depression can present with varying degrees of severity and length. It is a common illness that causes marked distress and interferes with relationships and work functioning. Clinical depression affects people of all ages, women more than men. There is some evidence that clinical depression, if left untreated, may complicate or worsen general medical conditions, such as heart disease.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by recurrent mood episodes, one of which must have been hypomanic or manic in nature.
Hypomania and mania describe states of elevated or intensely irritable mood, high energy, increased productivity and risky, impulsive behaviors. At other times in their lives, people with bipolar disorder may experience episodes of depression, characterized by profound sadness, loss of interest in activities, sleep and appetite changes, and suicidal thoughts. Recurring episodes of depression and mania may interfere substantially with quality of life and may lead to occupational, legal, and relationship problems. Unfortunately, many people with bipolar disorder continue to be affected by concentration and sleep problems, even when they are not feeling depressed or manic.
Currently, we are not conducting any bipolar disorder studies.
The Mood and Anxiety Program is conducting a study to evaluate an investigational medication for PTSD in men and women aged 18 to 65 who have been experiencing PTSD symptoms for at least one month.
How to Participate
If you are interested in participating in our PTSD study, please click here to fill out a questionnaire. Once it is received, you will be contacted by a member of our staff. You can also contact us directly at 404-727-4964.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical or personal harm occurred or threatened to occur. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, rape, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts, nightmares, or memories of their ordeal. They may experience sleep problems, be irritable or easily startled, and have a hard time concentrating. They may also lose interest in their usual activities or feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. Typically, people with PTSD try to avoid things that remind them of the traumatic event.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by recurrent, senseless, and highly anxiety-provoking thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions) that intrude into a person’s mind against his or her will. People who suffer from obsessions usually have some awareness that the thoughts are irrational, although they may be scary and seem bizarre. The obsessions may trigger a set of ritualized behaviors (compulsions) that the person feels driven to perform repeatedly in order to feel less anxious. Some of the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder include: fear of doing harm, fear of germs or illness, repeated checking or washing/cleaning, and repetitive, time-consuming "rituals."
Currently, we are not conducting any obsessive-compulsive disorder studies.
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about a number of different issues (such as relationships, work performance, or safety), lasting for at least six months. This is often accompanied by physical anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension or upset stomach. Individuals with this disorder are often easily fatigued and may experience irritability, as well as sleep and concentration difficulties.
Currently, we are not conducting any generalized anxiety disorder studies.
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is triggered by social or performance situations in which one may be the focus of attention or evaluated negatively by others. Some of the symptoms of social anxiety disorder include: fear of looking foolish, fear of public speaking, fear of making conversation, fear of public places, and fear of meeting new people. There are also physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, or nausea in public places.
Currently, we are not conducting any social anxiety disorder studies.
Panic Disorder consists of experiencing panic attacks or fearing recurring panic attacks. Panic attacks can be characterized as out-of-the-blue, tremendous rushes of fear that are quickly accompanied by heart racing, sweating, difficulty breathing, dizziness, tingling, or nausea. Sometimes people who experience panic attacks even fear they might be dying. When not experiencing panic attacks, people with panic disorder can spend so much time worrying about when their next attack will be that they end up missing out on activities and places they used to be able to enjoy.
Currently, we are not conducting any panic disorder studies.
Massage therapy is one of the fastest growing alternative therapies and has a high rate of acceptance for symptom management among cancer patients. Massage has been shown in smaller studies with cancer patients to modulate the immune system. The massage for CRF study (click here for flyer information) investigates the effects of massage therapy on CRF among breast cancer survivors. The primary aim of this study is to explore whether a decrease in CRF will increase quality of life among cancer survivors. Participants will receive a physical exam, psychiatric evaluation, and laboratory tests at no cost.
How to participate
If you are interested in participating in our massage for cancer-related fatigue study, please contact the study coordinator at 404-778-2497.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most prevalent and debilitating symptoms experienced by people with cancer. It can persist for months or years after cancer therapy is completed and has a negative impact on all areas of function. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) CRF is "a persistent, subjective sense of physical, emotional, and/or cognitive exhaustion related to cancer or its treatment that is not proportional to recent activity" (NCCN, 2011). Fatigue occurs across the spectrum of cancer types and treatments. CRF has a negative impact on all areas of function, including mood, physical function, work performance, social interaction, family care, cognitive performance, schoolwork, and community activities. CRF has been rated as more troublesome and to have a greater negative impact on quality of life than other cancer-related symptoms such as pain, depression, and nausea. CRF can persist for months or years after cancer therapy is completed. With approximately 12 million cancer survivors today in the United States alone, increased attention is being given to quality of life after cancer treatment.
The Emory Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program has been conducting clinical research studies of psychiatric disorders for over 20 years. We specialize in perfmorming high-quality research of new potential treatments for major depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. At times, we also conduct studies comparing the effects of psychotherapy and medication for these disorders. Please see the sidebar of this page to learn more about our current studies.
The physicians in our research program are all members of the Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Our studies are under the purview of the Emory Institutional Review Board, which helps to ensure that research ethics are maintained to a high standard, and that the confidentiality of participants is maximally protected.
We usually start 3 or 4 new studies per year, so if we are not currently conducting a study in an area you (or someone you know) is interested in, please check back for updates.
Our range of studies does not include research in schizophrenia, eating disorders, or substance-abuse problems. Unfortunately, people who are currently abusing alcohol or other drugs are not eligible to participate in any of our studies. Please visit our useful links page for further help in these areas.
If you would like to know more about our research studies, please visit our contact page for information on how to direct your questions.
Principle Investigator: Helen S. Mayberg, MD
Study Opportunities: Patients with Major Depression between the ages of 18-55 who are not currently taking medication and have never received Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and have never met criteria for Bipolar disorder, Psychotic Disorder, Dementia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Schizophrenia. Patients with a current primary diagnosis of Panic Disorder, OCD, PTSD, or an eating disorder are also excluded.
Summary: Although there are many effective options for treating a major depressive episode, there are no clinical markers that predict the likelihood of remission with an initial trial of either an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. To test whether insula metabolism can predict treatment outcomes in MDD, patients will be randomized to a 12 week treatment of either CBT therapy or Escitalopram (Lexapro) and receive a PET and MRI scan at the beginning and end of Phase 1. Treatment success will be determined by blind ratings. The study aims to determine if brain scans might help physicians to select the most effective treatment for an individual patient with Major Depression.
Subjects will be randomized to receive either Escitalopram (Lexapro) or CBT for 12 weeks. Resting-state positron emission tomography (PET) and BOLD functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans will be done before the treatment begins, and again at the end of treatment (week 12). Non-remitters to Lexapro or CBT will receive combination treatment with both Escitalopram and CBT for an additional 12 weeks of treatment.
Procedure: General screening process, physical exam, blood draw, self-report questionnaires, PET scan, MRI scan, treatment of CBT therapy or Escitalopram
Compensation: Phase 1: $10 gas card Baseline visit, Week 2, 4, 8, and 12. Phase 2: Non-remitters receive a $10 gas card at Week 14, 16, 20, 24.
Principal Investigator: Boadie Dunlop, MD
Population: Healthy controls and depressed patients between the ages of 30-65 who are not currently taking medication, who have an MDD diagnosis without psycotic features and have never met criteria at any time for dysthymia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or dementia.
Summary: The study aims to evaluate whether a blood-based test, the Gsα Sequestration Assay (GSA) can be useful in the diagnosis of major depressive disorder. This is a 2 visit study with an optional third visit for depressed patients. At the first visit, subjects will be evaluated for eligibility. All eligible participants will have their blood drawn at the end of the first visit. All participants will return for visit 2, at which a second blood sample will be drawn, to determine the test-retest reliability of the GSA measure. Depressed participants completing this study and who are subsequently treated for six weeks with an antidepressant medication by their physician may return for an optional third visit, in which they would provide an additional blood sample in order to investigate the effects of treatment on the GSA measure. Study will provide compensation.
Procedure: General screening process, physical exam, blood draw, self-report questionnaires.
Compensation: Visit 1 compensates $100, Visit 2 compensates $50, (optional) Visit 3 compensates $25
Principal Investigator: Boadie Dunlop, MD
Population: Adults aged 18-65 with depression who haven’t responded to at least 1, but no more than 2 antidepressants in their current episode of depression.
Summary: Patients who enroll in this 18-week study will receive treatment with an FDA-approved antidepressant and will be randomly assigned to either receive placebo or cariprazine (an atypical antipsychotic) in addition to the antidepressant. Patients will always be receiving an active medication throughout the study. The initial screening visit is about 3 hours and the visits after that are 1hr-1.5hrs. There is the possibility for a 6-month extension treatment phase after the 18-week study. Study will provide compensation.
Procedure: Physical exams, blood draws, eye exams.
Principal Investigator: Mark H. Rapaport, MD
Study Opportunities:Patients with Major Depression between the ages of 18-80 who are not currently taking medication and have never met criteria for Bipolar disorder, Psychotic Disorder, a Neurological Disorder, or Schizophrenia. Patients with a current primary diagnosis of OCD or an eating disorder cannot participate.
Summary: Major depression is a common mental disorder that can have a negative impact on lives. Despite the availability of numerous therapies, the current treatment of depression for some people is not ideal. Recently, some research has shown that an increase in dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), might help treat depression, especially in depressed people who have highly active immune cells. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a common type of PUFAs that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. EPA is available in low dosages in some types of dietary supplements found in health food stores.
The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of 1, 2 or 4 grams per day of an EPA-enriched pill versus a placebo on blood test measures of immune system activity and in treating the symptoms of major depression. About 100 people will take part in this study. Participation in the study will last 12 weeks with 9 visits.
Procedure: General screening process, physical exam, blood draw, self-reports questionnaires, EKG
Compensation: $40 per visit; no more than $280 total for study completion
Principal Investigator: Boadie Dunlop, MD
Population: Patients with Major Depression between the ages of 21-64 who are currently depressed and taking any of the following antidepressants: bupropion, fluoxetine, citalopram, escitalopram, sertraline, paroxetine, venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, vilazodone, vortioxetine and levomilnacipram. Patients that have met criteria for OCD, Bipolar disorder, Psychotic Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Dementia, Autism or Asperger’s are excluded.
Summary: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is well known to be a heterogeneous illness approximately one-third of depressed patients who are deemed to be treatment resistant may have distinct mechanisms underlying their depression, including systemic inflammation, resulting in reduced responsiveness to traditional treatment approaches. This is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in male and female subjects with MDD who are currently on an antidepressant and are still depressed but have failed to respond to no more than 3 antidepressant treatments in the current major depressive episode. The study will consist of 3 phases: a screening phase of up to 4 weeks, a 12 week double-blind treatment phase, and a 14 week post treatment follow-up phase. The total duration of subject participation will be approximately 28 weeks. Patients will receive 3 injections of Sirukumab during the 12 week treatment phase.
Procedure: General screening process (2 visits), physical exam, blood draw, self-report questionnaires, chest X-ray, EKG
Compensation:$40 per visit; no more than $400 total for study
Phone (MAP line): 404-778-6663 (MOOD)
Patients can go to:
Who can participate?
This study is looking for men and women with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) between the ages of 18 and 65 who are willing to take medication, and have never been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Psychotic Disorder, Dementia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizophrenia or any current eating disorder. Current medication for PTSD or depression is not exclusionary, but study participants must be willing to change/discontinue their medication.
Even though there are many effective treatments for PTSD, it can be difficult to find a consistently effective medication for PTSD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant, have had success at managing and treating PTSD, but response rates rarely exceed 60%. Vortioxetine is an FDA approved medication for depression that affects serotonin in a different way than most SSRIs. This study will assess how effective vortioxetine or a placebo is for the treatment of PTSD. This study will also measure treatment response by examining biological markers, cognition, and quality of life. The goal of this study is to see if vortioxetine will show greater improvement of PTSD symptoms than placebo.
If the subject was taking an antidepressant before study participation, there will be a one to two week period before starting the study during which the subject will slowly reduce the dose of their current medication. Subjects will be randomized to receive either vortioxetine or placebo for 12 weeks. All participants will be eligible for 3 months of free treatment with our staff psychiatrists after they complete the study.
Psychiatric evaluation, physical exam, blood draw, optional DNA/RNA sample, self-report questionnaires, ECG, vortioxetine/placebo
There will be no compensation for the first visit, but at all other visits will be compensated with $40.