Skip to content

Children: Irritability

Join a Research Study: Irritability

A Study of Brain Function and Symptoms in Children with Severe Mood Dysregulation

This study seeks to learn more about the symptoms of severe mood dysregulation in children and adolescents ages 7-17. Children and adolescents with severe mood dysregulation (SMD) display chronic anger, sadness, or irritability, as well as hyperarousal (such as insomnia, distractibility, hyperactivity) and extreme responses to frustration (such as frequent, severe temper tantrums). Researchers will describe the moods and behaviors of children with these symptoms and use specialized testing and brain imaging to learn about the brain changes associated with this disorder. 

Study participation begins with an initial outpatient evaluation that lasts one day. Then, testing and brain imaging are completed at two-three day outpatient visits which occur every two years until participants reach age 25. Phone contact occurs every six months in between visits.

Descriptive/Longitudinal Study: When children have severe mood dysregulation (SMD), do their brains work differently than those of other children? How do their symptoms change as the children grow up?

After a preliminary phone interview, participants may be invited to NIMH for an on-site assessment. Children must be in treatment with a psychiatrist or provider, and/or medically healthy and not currently hospitalized, psychotic or suicidal.

A principal focus of the research is how mood, behavior, and brain development of children with severe mood dysregulation (SMD) change over time. Study procedures at the two-three day visits may include questionnaires and interviews; paper-and-pencil and computer tests of mood, memory, and thinking; specialized computer games; and structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. These visits occur every two years until age 25. Children continue in treatment with a provider or psychiatrist in their community. This study does not involve treatment medications.

To find out if you qualify, email NIMH or call 1-301-496-8381 [TTY: 1-866-411-1010].

Join a Research Study: Irritability

Clinical Trial of Citalopram and Methylphenidate in Severe Mood Dysregulation

This study is testing the effectiveness of methylphenidate plus citalopram vs. methylphenidate plus placebo for decreasing irritability in children with severe mood dysregulation (SMD). Children with SMD display chronic anger, sadness, or irritability, as well as hyperarousal (such as insomnia, distractibility, hyperactivity) and extreme responses to frustration (such as frequent, severe temper tantrums).

Children ages seven to 17 with SMD may be eligible to participate in this 12- to 15-week inpatient or outpatient study. This study has four phases. During Phase I participants are gradually withdrawn from all current psychotropic medications. Phase II is a one-week psychotropic medication-free period. During Phase III, which lasts two weeks, participants are treated with methylphenidate alone. Phase IV lasts for eight weeks. During this time, participants continue methylphenidate treatment and are randomly assigned to also receive either citalopram or placebo.

At the end of the study, those who received methylphenidate plus placebo will have the opportunity to receive methylphenidate plus active citalopram if clinically appropriate.

All procedures and medications associated with the research are provided at no cost to participants, and transportation expenses are reimbursed by NIMH. Schooling will be provided while on the inpatient unit or in day treatment.

To find out if you qualify, email NIMH or call 1-301-496-8381 [TTY: 1-866-411-1010].