The New York State Psychiatric Institute

Columbia University Department of Psychiatry 
Specializing in Treatment and Research

of Chronic Depression

   Mood Disorders Research Program/

      Depression Evaluation Service

   1775 Broadway , Suite #1403   (57th St)

   New York, NY 10019

   Tel.  646-774-8000








                                           Information for Clinicians and Researchers

To refer a patient to a depression research study in the MDRP:

  • Clinicians can contact us by phone: 646-774-8000
  • or by email ( )
  • patients can also contact us directly regarding eligibility for our current studies

Current studies include:

Desvenlafaxine vs. Placebo for Chronic Depression

We are studying a new antidepressant medicine, desvenlafaxine, for the treatment of people with chronic depression

Desvenlafaxine (trade name Pristiq) was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depression. We are testing whether this medeicine is also effective for adults with a form of chronic depression  called dysthymic disorder (or dysthymia). Dysthymic disorder is one of the types of what the DSM-5 calls Persistent Depressive Disorder, or PDD. PDD includes several forms of chronic depression, including chronic major depression and dysthymia.

Regardless of sub-type, chronic depression, lasting two or more years, often causes significant suffering and impairment. Our study involves a 6 to 12 week double-blind initial phase during which half of the participants will take the new medication and half will take a placebo (an inactive look-alike pill).  After the initial phase, a 12-week continuation phase will begin, during which all subjects can be treated with an FDA-approved antidepressant medication. Following this, all subjects are eligible to receive an additional 3 months of open treatment

Eligible subjects may also receive MRI scans, to help us understand how antidepressants work in treating depression.


Study entry criteria:

Inclusion criteria:

   --age 20 to 60 years

   --diagnosis of dysthymic disorder (chronic depression) or depression NOS

  --minimum of 2 years duration of current episode of depression


Exclusion criteria:

  --current major depression

  --diagnoses including bipolar, schizophrenia, dementia

 --substance abuse or dependence in past 6 months

  --pregnant or nursing women

  --serious risk of suicide



Recent publications on depression from the MDRP and the Depression Evaluation Service:  

1. Erickson G, Hellerstein DJ. Behavioral Activation Therapy for remediating persistent social deficits in medication-responding chronic depression. Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2011;17:161-169

2. Hellerstein DJ, Stewart JW, McGrath PJ, Deliyannides D, Batchelder ST, Black S, Withers A, O’Shea D, Chen Y. Duloxetine vs. placebo in treatment of chronic non-major depression.  J Clinical Psychiatry 2012; 73:984-991

3. Posner J, Hellerstein DJ, Klahr K, Stewart JW, McGrath PJ, Peterson BS. Antidepressants normalize the default mode network in patients with dysthymia. JAMA Psychiatry 2013;70(4):373-382

4. Bruder GE, Keilp J, Alvarenga J, Alschuler D, Abraham K, Hellerstein DJ, Stewart JW, McGrath PJ. Psychomotor slowing as a differential predictor of clinical response to antidepressants. Biological Psychiatry 2013;73(9):160S

5. Stewart JW, McGrath PJ, Blondeau C, Deliyannides DA, Hellerstein DJ, Norris S, Amat J, Pilowski D, Tessier P, Laberge L, Chen Y, Withers A, Bergeron R. Combination antidepressant therapy for major depressive disorder: speed and probability of remission. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2014 

     Affiliated with the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute