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Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness)

Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious medical illness that causes shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. Learn more about Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness).

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For opportunities to participate in NIMH research on the NIH campus, visit the clinical research website. Travel and lodging assistance available.

Featured Studies

Featured studies include only those currently recruiting participants. Studies with the most recent start date appear first.

Procedures for Sample Acquisition and Distribution for The Human Brain Collection Core

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: February 20, 2019
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages N/A–120, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers


The Human Brain Collection Core (HBCC) collects brain and other tissues. They get these from deceased people who may or may not have had psychiatric disorders. The next of kin gives permission for researchers to get the tissues. Researchers want to collect medical details of people whose brains are donated. They also want to use the donated tissue to study brain chemistry and structure. This could lead to better treatments for mental illness.


To create a collection of human brain tissue to learn about the causes and mechanisms of mental disorders.


People willing to donate their deceased relative s brain tissue. The deceased person could not have had any of the following:

Severe mental retardation

Long-lasting seizure disorder

Infections that affect the brain


Brain damage

Being on a respirator for more than 12 hours

Major sepsis

Serious renal or hepatic disease

Certain dementias and degenerative diseases


Medical Examiner s Offices will screen donors who have recently died. Some others will be screened by hospitals or funeral homes.

Participants will be the next of kin. They will give consent for HBCC to obtain brain tissue from the deceased person. The tissue will be frozen for future research.

Participants will have a 30-minute phone call. They will answer questions about the deceased person s medical and psychiatric conditions. They will answer questions about the person s use of medicines and drugs.

Participants will be contacted by a social worker. They will be asked for permission to access the deceased person s medical records.

Project CARE: An Integrated Treatment Adherence Program for Bipolar Disorder at the Time of Prison Release - Open Trial

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: January 14, 2019
Locations: Cranston, Rhode Island; Providence, Rhode Island
Eligibility: Ages 18 and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The aim of this program of research is to develop and pilot the CARE (Community treatment Adherence at Re-Entry) program, an adjunctive intervention for incarcerated individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) transitioning from prison to the community.

The purpose of this proposed project is to establish the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of this newly developed intervention on symptom outcomes.

Internet Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder in Primary Care

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: April 1, 2017
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Eligibility: Ages 18–99, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The investigators will conduct a small pilot study to test the feasibility and acceptability of treating bipolar disorder (BP) in primary care with online psychotherapy delivered both with and without telephone, text, and email support from a clinical helper (CH). The ultimate goal of this work is to provide preliminary data needed to design a larger scale effectiveness study of online psychotherapy for treating BP in primary care.

LiveWell: A Mobile Intervention for Bipolar Disorder

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 20, 2017
Locations: Chicago, Illinois; Bloomington, Minnesota
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

LiveWell is a study evaluating the use of smartphones to better understand and improve the treatment of bipolar disorder. Our goal is to increase access to psychosocial interventions and improve their effectiveness in reducing symptoms and preventing mood episodes.

Lifestyle Intervention for Young Adults With Serious Mental Illness

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 1, 2017
Locations: Cambridge, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire
Eligibility: Ages 18–35, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

This is a four year project evaluating the effectiveness of a group-based lifestyle intervention (PeerFIT) supported by mobile health (mHealth) technology and social media compared to Basic Education in fitness and nutrition supported by a wearable Activity Tracking device (BEAT) in achieving clinically significant improvements in weight loss and cardiorespiratory fitness in young adults with serious mental illness (SMI).

Mechanism of Antidepressant-Related Dysfunctional Arousal in High-Risk Youth

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: December 31, 2015
Locations: Stanford, California; Cincinnati, Ohio
Eligibility: Ages 12–17, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

A 16-week double blind, placebo-controlled investigation of escitalopram in adolescents with depression and/or anxiety with a family history of Bipolar Disorder. Subjects will be evaluated using semi-structured diagnostic interviews and symptom ratings, participate in a MRI scan and then randomized to treatment. Following randomization, high-risk youth will have visits every week for the first 4 weeks of treatment then biweekly up to 16 weeks during which time tolerability and ratings will be performed. MRI scan will be repeated at week 4.

Neuroimaging Epigenetics of Prospective Postpartum Depression Biomarkers

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: May 31, 2014
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Eligibility: Females, Ages 18–65, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Through a recent cross species translational experiment, researchers have identified a set of epigenetic marks capable of predicting postpartum depression with greater than 85% accuracy. The researchers are looking to identify a group of women from both the general population and those with a history of mood disorders who are at risk for postpartum depression and obtain brain imaging data at a postpartum time period prior to the onset of depressive symptoms and compare it with those obtained during depressive episodes. The researchers will also evaluate the efficacy of postpartum depression biomarker prediction.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Adolescents With Bipolar Disorder

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: February 28, 2014
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Eligibility: Ages 12–18, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Of all psychiatric diagnoses, bipolar disorder imparts the greatest risk for completed suicide in adolescence, and is further associated with poor psychosocial functioning, substance abuse and legal difficulties, and exorbitant healthcare costs exceeding those for other adolescent psychiatric conditions. Treatment guidelines indicate optimal management of pediatric bipolar disorder includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Yet, little is known about effective psychotherapy approaches for this population, and none expressly target suicidality. An efficacious, cost-effective psychosocial intervention for adolescents with bipolar disorder has great potential to decrease the substantial morbidity, mortality and costs associated with adolescent bipolar disorder.

Retrain Your Brain in Children/Adolescents With Bipolar Disorder: A Pilot Study

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: August 31, 2013
Location: East Providence, Rhode Island
Eligibility: Ages 7–17, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The main aim of this study is to test a new, non-medication computer-based potential treatment for bipolar disorder in children and adolescents.

In the study, children and adolescents with bipolar disorder will come to our lab at Bradley Hospital 2-times per week for 8-weeks to "play" a custom computer "game" designed to retrain the brain--to build a skill that my work has shown is impaired in children/adolescents with bipolar disorder.

Before and after this 8-week trial, children will have a special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

This is a test of feasibility--meaning we want to see if the 8-week trial results in brain changes.

If it does, we will conduct a second study to see if it improves how bipolar children function--i.e., if it helps their illness.

Brain Imaging and Computer Games in Children With Either Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Anxiety or Healthy Controls

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 31, 2007
Location: East Providence, Rhode Island
Eligibility: Ages 7–17, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this research is to learn more about how children with mental health problems, including bipolar disorder (BD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), differ from children without these problems. The investigators want to understand how these 4 groups of children differ in brain activity, function, and structure.

Development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Techniques for Studying Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: November 6, 2006
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This study is intended to help develop new MRI imaging techniques for studying mood and anxiety disorders. Researchers believe that depression and anxiety disorders may cause structural and functional changes in the brain. This study will optimize the way MRI scans are collected to look at brain structure and examine how the brain behaves while subjects perform particular tasks.

Healthy normal subjects between 18 and 50 years of age who have never had a major psychiatric disorder and who have no first-degree relatives with mood disorders may be eligible for this study. Candidates are screened by phone with questions about their psychiatric and medical history, current emotional state and sleep pattern, and family history of psychiatric disorders. Candidates who pass the preliminary screening then undergo additional screening interviews and laboratory tests.

Participants undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological testing, as follows:

" MRI scans: Subjects are asked to participate in an MRI study on one of several scanners to measure blood flow in the brain, concentrations of certain chemicals in the brain, or magnetic properties of the brain. MRI uses a strong magnet and radio waves to obtain pictures of the brain. The subject lies still on a narrow bed with a metal coil close to the head. For this study, subjects may be asked to wear a special coil on the neck to help measure blood flow. They may be asked to watch a screen presenting images or to do a task in which they respond to pictures or sounds and may be asked to return for additional scans.

" Neuropsychological testing: Subjects may undergo tests of cognitive performance. Often, people with mood disorders have subtle changes in performance on these tests that allow researchers to pinpoint where brain abnormalities occur. Before the tests can be used in patients, they must be validated by using healthy subjects. These tests are presented either orally, in written form, or on a computer.

Family Study of Affective and Anxiety Spectrum Disorders

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: October 30, 2003
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages N/A–60, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This study will examine how depression, anxiety, and migraine run in families. It will help in defining the risk factors for physical, mental, and health problems-as well as define ways that those problems may be prevented and treated.

A broad range of ages among family members will be included to evaluate the patterns of how these disorders are expressed throughout people's lives. Children of all ages will be included, and those ages 8 to 17 will be interviewed directly.

Assessments will be collected through criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV as well as the spectrum, or range, of mood disorders and co-existing conditions. A member of the study team will visit the participants at home or will do an interview by telephone. Participation will take approximately 3 to 4 hours. Children will complete questionnaires given by the research team as well as questionnaires that they will do by themselves. The questions will pertain to the children's health, including physical and mental health and medical history, social relationships, problems, skills, and ways of dealing with important or stressful issues in their lives. These questionnaires will take up to 1 hour to complete.

Health history gathered from adult participants will pertain to height, weight, exercise, and general function. Women will be asked about the use of oral contraceptives, estrogen, and progesterone. In addition, there will be questionnaires on personality and temperamental traits, that is, behavior and impulsiveness. Questions will also involve social intuition, family and other environmental factors, general functioning, and basic demographics such as ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, marital status, education level, and employment history.

Families enrolled in this phase of the research will be invited to participate in the next phase. There would be follow-up to evaluate the development of mood disorders, subtypes, and syndromes across the lifespan.

Studies of Brain Function and Course of Illness in Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: October 29, 2001
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 7–25, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

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.

Evaluation of Patients With Mood and Anxiety Disorders and Healthy Volunteers

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: September 21, 2001
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 3–99, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this protocol is to allow for the careful screening of patients and healthy volunteers for participation in research protocols in the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Lab (ETPB) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and for the collection of natural history data. In addition the protocol will allow clinicians to gain more experience in the use of a variety of polysomnographic and high-density EEG recordings. Subjects in this protocol will undergo an evaluation which may include: a psychiatric interview; a diagnostic interview; rating scales; a medical history; a physical exam; brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); electroencephalography (EEG); electrocardiography (EKG), magnetoencephalography (MEG); blood, saliva and urine laboratory evaluation; and a request for medical records. Subjects may also be asked to complete questionnaires about attitudes towards research and motivation for research participation. The data collected may also be linked with data from other mood and anxiety disorder protocols (e.g., brain imaging, DNA, psychophysiology tests, treatment studies, etc) for the purposes of better understanding the diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment response of patients with mood disorders. Parents of minors will be interviewed. Upon conclusion of the screening process, subjects will either be offered participation in a research protocol and will sign the appropriate informed consent, or will be considered not appropriate for participation in research and will be referred back into the community. The current protocol thus serves as an entry point for individuals with mood or anxiety disorders or healthy volunteers to enter NIMH IRB approved ETPB protocols.

Genetic Study of Schizophrenia

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 6, 1995
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18 and Older, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This large ongoing study at NIMH investigates the neurobiology of schizophrenia by identifying susceptibility genes, evaluating their impact on brain function to better understand how to treat and prevent this illness.

Evaluation of the Genetics of Bipolar Disorder

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: August 4, 1980
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18–85, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This study looks to identify genes that may affect a person's chances of developing bipolar disorder (BP) and related conditions.