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Children: Depression

Join a Research Study: Enrolling locally from the Washington, D.C. metro region

Pediatric Mood and Anxiety Research

This pediatric research study seeks to learn how the brain functions in children and adolescents with anxiety and/or depression. These studies seek boys and girls ages 8-17 to participate in research at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Research participation includes brain imaging and computer-based problem solving and memory tasks. Treatment is available over 8 weeks of outpatient visits.

All participants will receive interviews to assess how they are doing in general, including his or her general mood, degree of nervousness and behavior. Each participant and one of his or her parents will be interviewed separately and together. All those enrolled in the study will have a physical examination. They will undergo tests involving problem-solving and memory and perform tasks that involve looking at pictures, remembering things, testing reaction times, and making simple choices.

Participants with anxiety or depression will first meet with a psychiatrist or psychologist for two weekly sessions of talk therapy. Those who remain anxious or depressed after these 2 weeks will have the 3 options based on their choice: 1) treatment with fluoxetine daily for 8 weeks 2) cognitive-behavioral therapy (a talk therapy) once a week for 8 weeks 3) a random assignment (50% chance) to either placebo or fluoxetine for 8 weeks. All participants will be seen approximately weekly for 8 weeks by a doctor to talk and complete verbal and written exercises. Blood samples will be drawn for laboratory tests before drug treatment and after it ends.

Those who have not improved by the end of the study will be offered other treatment for 1 to 3 months, and the clinicians will help with finding subsequent aftercare. Those who improve with treatment will continue therapy at NIH until an outside physician is able to assume responsibility for monitoring medication.

To find out if you qualify, email NIMH or call 1-301-402-8225 [TTY: 1-866-411-1010].

Join a Research Study: Enrolling nationally from around the country

Teen Depression Study: Understanding Depression in Teenagers

This research study seeks to understand the causes of depression in teenagers.  It is part of a larger study looking at irritability and mood dysregulation. This part of the study’s goals are to improve our knowledge of which treatments work best in depression, and will compare teenagers with depression to those with severe irritability.  The research will also study teenagers with depression as they grow up.

The study is currently recruiting participants ages 12-17 who meet diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. They must also be in treatment with a provider or psychiatrist in their community, be medically healthy, and able to perform research tasks. They may not currently be hospitalized, psychotic or suicidal. Those who are eligible to participate may currently be in treatment with medications or may be medication-free.

Study participation begins with an initial 1-day outpatient evaluation. It includes a clinical assessment, interviews, and questionnaires.

  • Subsequently, participants have the option to return annually for outpatient visits, up to age 25. This part of the study does not involve treatment. These outpatient visits may include paper-and-pencil and computer tests of mood, memory, and thinking; specialized computer games; and structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans.
  • Some participants may be eligible for an inpatient treatment stay of 4- to 15-weeks based on clinical judgement. When clinically indicated, some may participate as day treatment patients. Participation includes standard treatment with medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy along with interviews, research testing, brain imaging and limited psychological testing. Schooling will be provided while on the inpatient unit or in day treatment.

All clinical evaluations, research procedures and visits are free of cost. Teenagers are compensated for research participation. Both parents and teenager must agree to the teenager’s participation in research.

The studies are conducted at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland and enroll participants from the local area and from across the United States. Transportation expenses are reimbursed by NIMH.

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