Research Studies: Depression

DBSA does not endorse nor recommend any particular research study. Patients should discuss all options with their health care providers and family members before beginning any study.

Many people think that participating in a research study means they will get better treatment for their illness. While this may be true, it's important to remember that a research study is conducted for research purposes—it does not ensure better or safer treatment.

Taking part in a study does not guarantee individual benefits to the participant in the form of newer or safer treatment. The contribution made participating in a research study is to science first and to the patient second.

DBSA, its advisors, and its consultants do not endorse or recommend the use of any specific treatment or medication. For advice about specific treatment or medication, patients should consult their physicians and/or mental health professionals.

A Randomized, Double-blind, Active-controlled Trial to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of AXS-05 Administered Orally to Subjects with Treatment Resistant Major Depressive Disorder

This is a study looking at how safe and effective the investigational drug (AXS-05) is in treating patients who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (depression) and have not had an adequate treatment response to previous treatment. You may be eligible to take part in this study if you have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).

There will be a total of up to 10 visits over a period of approximately 15 weeks. The study will be divided into 3 parts: an up to two-week screening period, a 6-week period (Period 1), and another 6-week period (Period 2). If you successfully complete screening, you will enter Period 1 and receive bupropion sustained release (SR), a currently marketed drug approved by the FDA to treat depression. At the end of Period 1, you may or may not continue into Period 2. If the doctor confirms you are eligible to enter into Period 2, and if you continue to choose to be a part of this study, you will either continue to receive bupropion SR (the same drug and dose you took in Period 1) or at some point during the 6 weeks, you will be switched to AXS-05 (a combination of bupropion and dextromethorphan  the investigational study drug). There is no placebo in this study.

In total, you will make up to 10 visits in person. The activities you can expect include but are not limited to the following: in-person and phone interviews and questionnaires, laboratory tests, urine collections, urine pregnancy tests, physical examinations and vital signs.

Study-related care is provided at no cost to participants. Compensation for time and travel may be provided.

We are looking for individuals between 18-65 who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (depression) and have not had an adequate treatment response to previous treatment.

  • You are not eligible for this study if you are pregnant, nursing, or planning on becoming pregnant.
  • Certain medications/treatments and other medical conditions are not allowed.
  • Participants may be required to wash-off of existing antidepressant therapy.
  • Participants are permitted to continue existing therapy but not initiate during study conduct.

Please visit the website for more information.

Deadline for Enrollment: February 2019

Augmentation versus Switch: Comparative Effectiveness Research Trial for Antidepressant Incomplete and Non-Responders with Treatment Resistant Depression (ASCERTAIN-TRD) (Houston, Texas)

Baylor College of Medicine and Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center are conducting a clinical trial to study the comparative effectiveness of three FDA-approved noninvasive treatment strategies for individuals suffering from treatment resistant depression. Patients will receive either repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in conjunction with their current antidepressant medications or an alternative noninvasive treatment. The study is sponsored by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and is being conducted at several sites nationwide.

Individuals between the ages of 18-80 and who have not responded to at least two antidepressant medications are eligible for screening. Compensation will be provided for time and travel.

To see if you qualify, please call (713) 689-9856 or email

All inquiries are confidential.

Disallowed medications: atypical antipsychotics (aripiprazole, quetiapine, lurasidone, etc.); escitalopram

There is no placebo group. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three FDA approved treatments: Effexor, Abilify augmentation, or rTMS therapy.

Lorna Hirsch

Deadline for Enrollment: 2021

Treatment Resistant Depression Study - ECT Versus Ketamine (Houston, Texas)

Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center are conducting a clinical trial in individuals between the ages of 21-75 to study the comparative effectiveness of ECT versus Ketamine in patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression. The study is sponsored by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and is being conducted at several sites nationwide.

If eligible, participants will receive the study treatments and all study-related care at no cost. Compensation will also be provided for time and travel. All inquiries are confidential.

Participants will be asked to continue on all current treatments throughout the course of the study.

There is no placebo group. Patients will be assigned to either ketamine or ECT, at a 1:1 ratio.

Sidra Iqbal

Deadline for Enrollment: 2020

Familial Early-Onset Suicide Attempt Biomarkers with PET/MRI (New York, NY)

Depression affects 15 million Americans each year. More than 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year. Depression and suicidal behavior risk are transmitted in families due to a combination of genes and environment. Depressive illness and the risk of suicidal behavior are associated with altered brain function that we can detect by brain imaging.

A research study is being conduced at Columbia University Medical Center that aims to examine brain function in adults who have a parent or sibling who has suffered from depression and made a suicide attempt. You may be eligible if you are between the ages of 25 and 60 years old and have lost a first degree relative to suicide.

The goal of the study is to detect who is at risk of developing depression and who is not going to develop depression so we can prevent these problems before they occur. Your participation could help researchers better understand the causes of suicidal behavior and depression and help others who suffer from depression in the future.

Procedures include brain imaging (MRI and PET), neuropsychological testing and a detailed clinical assessment. The compensation for participating is up to $600.

Patients are expected to be medication free for brain scans.

Participants will complete research procedures and then may start antidepressants upon completion of research procedures if they'd like. They are offered 6 months of open medication treatment through our clinic at no cost.

Allison Metts

Deadline for Enrollment: April 2020

Mechanism of Antidepressant-Related Dysfunctional Arousal in High-Risk Youth (Cincinnati, Ohio)

The purpose of this research study is to investigate brain changes in adolescents who are currently experiencing depressive and/or anxiety symptoms and have a family history of bipolar disorder.  Participants will be randomized to escitalopram and psychotherapy or placebo and psychotherapy for 16-week treatment.

Participants will receive compensation for their transportation and/or time for the study visits. All study visits, tests, procedures and medication will be provided at no cost to participants. No other antidepressant use is permitted. Adolescents 12 to 17 years of age who are experiencing depressive and/or anxiety symptoms or have been diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety and have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with bipolar I disorder may be eligible to participate.

Kaitlyn Bruns

Deadline for Enrollment: 6/1/2020

Engage MDD Studies (Multi-centers in the U.S.)

A Multicenter, Double-blind, Placebo- and Active-Controlled Parallel-Group Evaluation of the Safety and Efficacy of Vilazodone in Pediatric Patients With Major Depressive Disorder

The Engage clinical research studies are for children and adolescents with MDD. The purpose of the studies is to find out whether two different investigational drugs are safe and effective for children and adolescents who have MDD. Your child may be able to join an Engage clinical research study if he or she:

  • Is 7 to 17 years old
  • Has been diagnosed with MDD or has been having feelings of depression

There are other eligibility criteria that your child must meet to participate in an Engage clinical research study. The study staff can discuss these criteria with you in greater detail.

Restrictions: Patients initiating individual psychotherapy or behavior therapy within 3 months prior to the Screening (Visit 1), or who plan to initiate or change such therapies during the course of the study.

Participant will randomize into 1 of 3 groups.
Group 1-Fluoxetine
Group 2 -placebo
Group 3-investigational drug
It will last 8 weeks.

Mary Tabakin
Phone: (240) 747-1703

Deadline for Enrollment: August 2018

Genetic test using DNA to help find the most appropriate treatment for your depression (Chicago, IL)

This is a 24-week study of a genetic test used to predict which drugs and doses for the treatment of depression are likely to work best for a particular person. This study will involve using a cotton-tipped swab to collect a saliva sample from the inside of the patient's check. The study lab will analyze the sample and provide a report for the study doctor to use in selecting medication. The report will show commonly prescribed psychiatric medications grouped into categories based on the subject's unique profile.

Possible restrictions on receiving other treatments.

Linda Skaggs
Phone: 312-942-5592

Observational study to evaluate potential predictors of relapse in subjects with major depressive disorder (Chicago, IL)

This is a study of subjects with major depressive disorder who are responding to treatment with an oral antidepressant medication.  The purpose of this observational study is to evaluate whether answers to questionnaires about symptoms and functioning can be used to predict worsening of depression in the near future.  The length of study participation will vary, with study visits every 8 weeks until the required number of subjects experience a return of depression symptoms.

Possible restrictions on receiving other treatments.

Linda Skaggs
Phone: 312-942-5592

Rapidly Acting Treatment for Depression (Chicago, IL)

We are doing this research study to find out if an investigational medication can help improve the symptoms of depression within the first 72 hours of treatment when combined with an antidepressant.  This study will enroll adults who have not sufficiently responded to treatment with antidepressants. We also want to observe side effects and safety of the investigational medication when used with an antidepressant.

Certain other treatments are not allowed. There is a 56% chance a subject will receive placebo during part of this study. There is a 19% chance a subject will receive only placebo during this study.

Linda Skaggs
Phone: 312-942-5592

A prospective Longitudinal, Observational Study to Evaluate Potential Predictors of Relapse in Subjects With Major Depressive Disorder Who Have Responded to Antidepressant Treatment (Skokie, IL)

This observational study (data collection process) is being conducted in order to collect information related to Major Depressive Disorder, to identify those characteristics that may be used to predict worsening of MDD in the near future. For persons currently taking an antidepressant and doing well. Must have initiated and responded to an oral antidepressant with in the past three months. Subjects will receive a smart phone device and wrist device and complete questionnaires at various time points during the study. Qualified subjects may remain under the care of their current doctor throughout the study or begin treatment with our study team. Those currently receiving stimulants, anti-convulsants, or mood stabilizers for treatment of depression will not qualify.

Rae K. Watkins PsyD
Phone: 847-484-1900

Deadline for Enrollment: December 31, 2018

Depression Research Study (Ann Arbor)

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between emotion and memory. The goal of this study is to try to understand how the brain processes information in those with Major Depressive Disorder by understanding how interference is resolved in perceptual, memory, and motor processes. This, in turn, may help us understand ruminative processes among depressed individuals.

In this study, participants will first be asked to undergo a clinical diagnostic interview with a trained clinician, graduate student, post docs, or other trained personnel who have undergone formal training in administering the interview. During that time we will ask you questions about your emotional and physical well-being. This interview, which will last approximately 1-2 hours, will help determine if participants are eligible to continue in the study. This session pays $20.00 an hour.

If eligible, participants will be invited back to participate in various studies, which include performing computer-based tasks. Participants will also be asked to complete several questionnaires pertaining to their moods and emotions. This session pays $20.00 an hour as well.

Phone: 734-647-6249

Deadline for Enrollment: OPEN

Mothers with Depression Needed

Are you a mother with a daughter who is 9-14 years old? Have you had episodes of depression during your daughter's lifetime?

If so, you may be eligible to participate in a study of how moms and their daughters think and process emotional information.

The study takes place in the Psychology Department at Stanford University. You and your daughter would participate in interviews, fill out questionnaires, do computer tasks, have discussions with each other, and possibly be eligible for a brain scan. Involvement in the study requires a time-commitment of 3-10 hours over the course of one to three visits. We will schedule the sessions around your availability (daytime, evenings, or weekends are all fine).

Eligible pairs receive $40/hour for their time.

To be eligible for this study:

  • you must have a daughter between the ages of 9 and 14
  • you must have had episodes of depression during your daughter's lifetime
  • you must be a US citizen or hold a Green Card
  • you must read and speak English fluently
  • you should have no immediate plans to leave the Bay Area

If you would like to receive more information about this study, please email or call (650) 723-0804 to reach the study coordinator, Hannah Burley. Please refer to study #101. For general information about participant rights, contact 1-866-680-2906.

Your performance in all study-related activities, including requests for information will be kept completely confidential.

Deadline for enrollment: OPEN

Sleep and Memory

Sleep and Memory Study

  • Depressed participants needed
  • Males and females over the age of 18
  • No history of head injury causing unconsciousness
  • Able to spend 2 to 4 nights in the lab and keep a fixed sleep schedule
  • Willing to complete interview, questionnaires, and computer tasks
  • Monetary compensation of $75 per lab night

Adrienne McHenry

Depression Research Study

Feeling overwhelmed? sad? depressed? You may be suffering from depression.
Doctors at the University of California Los Angeles are researching a new technology to predict antidepressant effectiveness. Qualifying participants, ages 18-75, will receive antidepressants, study-related exams, tests and clinical consultations - at no cost. Also, monetary compensation may be provided. We conduct numerous studies on depression and enrollment is ongoing.

Lab of Brain, Behavior, and Pharmacology

Deadline: Open

Depression Research Study (Southern California)

A Placebo-Controlled, Add-On (“Natural Supplement”) Study of MSI-195 (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, SAMe) For Patients With Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Who Have Had An Inadequate Response to Current Antidepressant Therapy

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of MSI-195 (SAMe) as an add-on treatment to an ongoing antidepressant medication. Qualified participants must be between 21 and 70 years of age and diagnosed with Depression. The duration of study participation is approximately two-to-three months, with up to six clinic visits and three telephone visits. Study-related care is provided at no cost to participants and compensation for travel is available. 

Pharmacology Research Institute (PRI) has been conducting research studies since 1975. Our offices are located in Orange County, Long Beach/Los Alamitos and Encino/San Fernando Valley. Please feel free to contact us or visit our website for more information. 

Mellissa M. Henry, R.N., M.S.N., N.P.
(888) 774-4673 or (714) 827-3667

Deadline: Open

Deep brain stimulation for TRD

This study, conducted by Dr. Helen Mayberg, is looking a deep brain stimulation for the treatment of patients with treatment resistant depression. We are currently recruiting patients with bipolar type II depression and unipolar depression. For more information please contact us or visit our clinical trials website at:

Megan Filkowski

Deadline: Open