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Children: Depression

Join a Research Study: Enrolling nationally from around the country

Finding causes and treating depression in teenagers

This research study seeks to find causes and treatments of depression in teenagers. The study goals are to increase our knowledge of treatments for depression and understand how the brain changes when teenagers have depression. The study will also compare teenagers with depression to those without mental health diagnoses as they grow up.

The study is recruiting participants ages 11-17 who are depressed. They must have a pediatrician or other medical provider, be medically healthy, and able to perform research tasks. They may not currently be hospitalized, psychotic or actively suicidal. Teenagers with depression are eligible even if they are taking medication.

Study participation begins with an outpatient evaluation that includes clinical assessment, interviews, and questionnaires.

  • Outpatient visits may include paper-and-pencil and computer tests of mood, memory, and thinking; specialized computer games; and structural and brain imaging. If eligible, study participants may return several times a year, up to age 25. This part of the study does not involve treatment.
  • Participants may be eligible for treatment (inpatient or outpatient) for up to 25 weeks. Participation includes evidenced-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and, if indicated, standard medications. Research includes computer tasks and brain imaging. Schooling will be provided while on the inpatient unit or in day treatment.

All clinical evaluations, research tasks and visits are free of cost. Participants are compensated for research activities. 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 1-301-827-1350 [TTY: 1-866-411-1010].

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].