Volunteer in New York City for Research on Treatment for Depression
Are you sad? Down? Don’t enjoy things? Do you have trouble concentrating and sleeping?
Consider free evaluation and treatment for depression within the context of a research study at
Columbia University’s Depression Evaluation Service (DES) in New York City.
For further information about participation in any of the following studies, please call
212-543-5734 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information is available on the
Depression Evaluation Service (DES) web site.
Current Depression Evaluation Service (DES) studies at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry
For all studies, contact the Depression Evaluation Service at 212-543-5734. You can also email us at
DESdesk@nyspi.columbia.edu, or visit our website, www.depression-nyc.org
Up to this point, it has been impossible for psychiatrists to tailor depression treatments to individuals based on personal characteristics. The EMBARC study, an NIMH-funded project taking place at four universities nationwide, is a first step toward such personalized treatment. In this study we are examining biological and clinical characteristics which may be predictive of antidepressant treatment response in people with major depression. Study participants will be treated with either sertraline (Zoloft) or placebo (an inactive pill) in the first stage of the study, and sertraline or bupropion (Wellbutrin) in the second. Before starting treatment, participants will come in for a range of sophisticated tests including both structural and functional MRI brain imaging and electroencephalography (EEG). Participants will then repeat the testing soon after beginning medication so that we can look for early biological signs that predict treatment response. At the end of the study, participants will be eligible for 6 months of follow up with a DES physician.
PET Biomarkers in Treatment Resistant Depression study
Why do some depressed people respond to antidepressant medications while others do not? The Depression Evaluation Service at NY State Psychiatric Institute has started a new research study for people with persistent depression that doesn’t seem to go away, even with treatment. Recent research has found that the levels of a certain enzyme in the brain, MAO-A, are different for people with depression than for non-depressed people. This enzyme is the target of a class of anti-depressant medicines called the MAO inhibitors (MAOIs), which have been shown to work better in treatment-resistant depression than other classes of medication. With the help of state-of-the-art brain imaging technology, Dr. McGrath and his fellow DES researchers will examine whether the brain levels of MAO-A are different in treatment-resistant depression, and whether MAO-A levels are related to treatment outcome with an MAOI. For people who are eligible to participate, this study provides free treatment with an FDA-approved antidepressant medication for 16 weeks, followed by 3 months of free medication treatment afterwards. Before treatment begins, participants undergo one MRI and one PET scan.
Tranylcypromine Treatment of Bipolar Depression study
This study investigates the possible effectiveness of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor, tranylcypromine, as a treatment for depressed patients with bipolar disorder. Patients will be treated with tranylcypromine for up to 16 weeks to determine whether this medication might be a reasonable alternative to problematic antipsychotic medications. Patients will be required to follow a tyramine-free diet as long as they take tranylcypromine and for two weeks after stopping it. At the end of the study, participants will be eligible for 6 months of follow up with a DES physician.
Combined Wake Therapy, Light Therapy and Lithium for Bipolar and Refractory Depression study
Both refractory depression and bipolar depression are difficult to treat. Previous research has found a night of complete sleep deprivation results in marked improvement in 60% of depressed patients, but these results typically reverse following sleep. To determine whether remissions following a night of wakefulness can be maintained, this study pairs wakefulness with bright light therapy, sleep phase advance, and lithium. If remission from depression is maintained, the combined treatment used in this study might prove to be effective treatment for refractory and bipolar depression. Prior to entering the hospital for Wake Therapy, all patients will take adequate doses of lithium, begun under the care of a DES physician for patients not already taking lithium. Patients who remain significantly depressed on lithium will be hospitalized for a week where they will remain awake for three non-consecutive nights while continuing to take lithium, sleep at prescribed times and sit in front of bright lights at specific times. Patients will then be followed an additional five weeks while still taking lithium and using bright lights. Following this, they will be treated by a DES physician for an additional six months using any treatment the patient and physician consider appropriate.
Cognitive, ERP and EEG Measures in Affective Disorders study
This study will evaluate the hypothesis that depressive disorders involve abnormalities of brain functioning, and will test the usefulness of neurocognitive and electrophysiologic tests for predicting treatments outcomes in depression. Patients are randomized into three groups each taking a different antidepressant or a combination of antidepressants (bupropion, citalopram, or bupropion + citalopram). Cognitive, EEG and ERP tests will be performed before treatment, after week one, and after weeks 6-12 to gather data on brain functioning. This study will allow us to confirm the value of these tests for predicting response to treatment with an SSRI (citalopram) and also to examine their predictive value for an antidepressant with a different mechanism of action (bupropion), as well as the dual therapy with these antidepressants.
Desvenlafaxine vs. Placebo for Non-Major Chronic Depressive Disorder (CDD)
We are studying a newly approved antidepressant medicine, desvenlafaxine, for the treatment of people with chronic depression. Desvenlafaxine (trade name Pristiq) has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depression. We are testing whether this medicine is also effective for adults with a type of chronic depression that is less severe than major depression. This type of depression is also known as dysthymic disorder or dysthymia. Chronic depression, lasting two or more years, often causes significant suffering and impairment. Our study involves a 6 to 12 week double-blind period during which half of the participants will take the new medication and half will take a placebo (an inactive look-alike pill). After the double blind phase, all subjects can be treated for 12 weeks with an FDA-approved antidepressant medication. Assessments (of depressive symptoms, social functioning, and personality) will be done by study staff and by patients before the study starts, at each study visit for the first 12 weeks, and again after 24 weeks in the study.
A Clinical Trial of a New Medication (RO4995819) for Treatment Resistant Depression
In recent years, study results have strengthened the idea that both depression and related cognitive deficits may share a common root in the function, or dysfunction, of a brain chemical known as glutamate. The medication in this study works on the glutamate pathways, with predicted antidepressant and cognition enhancing properties. It is hoped that in addition to its anti-depressant effects, the cognition enhancing properties of this medication may lead to facilitated learning and improved memory. This medication’s unique mode of action may represent the first of a new generation of antidepressant drugs with cognition enhancing effects and may offer a novel approach for the treatment of depression as well as depression-related cognitive deficits. This medication is experimental and is designed to be taken in addition to an existing SSRI or SNRI anti-depressant treatment.