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 advisers, and 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.

COVID-19 and daily routines: The experience of people with mood disorders

Many governments have instituted social distancing and social isolation measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This has caused many people to experience changes in their normal and structured social routines of work, study, and other lifestyle activities. We want to understand the challenges individuals diagnosed with mood disorders face, particularly with respect to their social rhythms during a time of restricted socializing and modified daily routines.

 A group of researchers led by Professor Greg Murray of Swinburne University of Technology is seeking study participants who:

  • Have received a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder
  • Are age 18-65
  • Are fluent in English

Participation involves completing a brief online survey (20-30 minutes). You will be asked some basic information about yourself, some questions about your current mood symptoms, stress, social rhythmicity and sleep as well as your experiences around evidence-based psychological therapies.


If you would like more information about the project, please contact 

Learn more about participating in the study

The Role of Dysmyelination in Cognitive Impairment of PSD (New York, NY)

The primary objective of this study is to understand how brain anatomy relates to function and health. This study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and is conducted at New York University School of Medicine, Departments of Radiology and Psychiatry.

We are recruiting 18-30 year old participants that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in the last five years. An initial telephone screening and clinical interview will establish eligibility for the study.

If eligibility criteria are met, a compensation of $160 will be provided at the completion of the study.

The study involves:
• Clinical assessment
• MR scanning
• Blood draw
• Cognitive Assessment

Mariana Lazar
Phone: 212-263-3348

Deadline for Enrollment: 12/31/20


Brexpiprazole (OPC-34712)

A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-blind Trial of Brexpiprazole versus Placebo for the Acute Treatment of Manic Episodes, With or Without Mixed Features, Associated With Bipolar I Disorder.

Participants who have received psychotropic medications in past 7 days (other than benzos) and had electroconvulsive therapy in past 7 days are ineligible. Approximately 60% of participants will be randomized in North America and 40% in Europe.


Heather Strobel
Phone: 219-293-3860

Deadline for Enrollment: July 2019


Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network for Intermediate Phenotypes: Psychosis and Affective Research Domains (Dallas, Texas)

The purpose of this multi-site research collaboration (Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes, B-SNIP) is to test the appearance of biological markers for psychosis and affect across the schizophrenia/bipolar diagnostic boundary and to examine the genetic associations for these biological markers.


Asha Philip
Phone: 214-648-5276

Deadline for Enrollment: June 30, 2020

BiAffect: a ResearchKit study to unobtrusively understand mood and cognition in bipolar disorder (iPhone)

Currently, diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder rely on careful history taking and mental status examination by an experienced clinician, at times aided by self-report or family-informed questionnaires. These reports, as well as in-person assessments, have to be interpreted by providers in order to extract patterns that could indicate an imminent change in mood. When individuals experience changes in mood, they also may struggle with navigating daily activities—especially ones with high cognitive demand.

With the expanding coverage of wireless Internet access and rapid advancement of mobile smartphone technologies, people are increasingly interacting via typed (rather than oral) communications. BiAffect’s innovative approach aims at understanding and examining the ubiquitous ‘virtual mental-health footprints’ or ‘signatures’ of abnormalities in people suffering from mood disorders, notably abnormalities in cognitive skills.



Deadline for Enrollment: Rolling

Lithium Effects on the Brain’s Functional and Structural Connectome in the Treatment of Bipolar Disorder (Cleveland, OH)

Study participation will include 12 office visits across 26 weeks. The purpose of this study is to investigate and map the functional effects of lithium treatment on the nervous system in patients who have bipolar disorder. Lithium is FDA approved and highly effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder, however, despite decades of research, its clinical mechanism of action remains unclear. To conduct this study, a functional MRI will be used to measure brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow at four time points across the 26 weeks. All participants must be willing to be treated with only Lithium as a single mood stabilizer for 6 months. No other psychotropic medications may be taken during the duration of the study. All participants will be compensated for their time of participation in the study. Also seeking healthy volunteers with no history of a mood disorder.

Inclusion criteria for Bipolar Disorder participants:

  • Ages 18-60 years (inclusive) and able to give voluntary informed consent
  • Meeting diagnostic criteria for Bipolar Disorder type I or II, current Depressive Episode
  • Not currently (hypo)manic
  • No psychotropics in the last 2 weeks (if previously on fluoxetine then medication free for  5 weeks)
  • No lithium treatment for past 6 months
  • Ability to undergo an MRI scan
  • No significant suicidal or homicidal ideation or gross disability

Exclusion criteria for Bipolar Disorder subjects are:

  • Meeting DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or an anxiety disorder as a primary diagnosis
  • Requiring inpatient treatment
  • Meeting DSM-V criteria for substance dependence within the past year, except caffeine or nicotine
  • Positive urinary toxicology screening at baseline
  • Use of alcohol in the past 1 week
  • Serious medical or neurological illness
  • Current pregnancy or breast feeding
  • Metallic implants or other contraindications to MRI.

Participants must be currently depressed and not on any medications or treatments for their depression leading up to the MRI.

There is no experimental medication involved. All participants are prescribed Lithium, an FDA approved mood stabilizer and will be followed up and treated for a 6 month time period.


Amy Morrison or Lauren Patterson
Phone: 216-445-2378 or 216-636-1675

Deadline for Enrollment: October 2022

Evaluation of NeoSync EEG Synchronized TMS For the Treatment of Major Depressive Episode in Bipolar Disorder and Associated Neural Response: An Open Label Trial (Providence, Rhode Island)

Adults with Bipolar I Disorder who struggle with symptoms of depression despite medication treatments recieve a diagnostic evaluation and (if eligible) up to 30 daily treatment sessions (weekdays over 6 weeks) with an investigational device that delivers Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (“TMS”)  synchronized with the participant’s alpha brain waves. Participants may also have a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain scan before and at the end of the clinical trial. Participants remain on their stable psychiatric medication regimens, and the TMS treatments are “active” for all study participants, i.e. no one will get “placebo” or “sham” TMS.

Participants will not be able to change medications during the 6 weeks of the study unless medically necessary.


Dr. Jorge Almeida
Phone: 401-455-6623

Deadline for Enrollment: TBD

Dynamic Inflammatory and Mood Predictors of Cognitive Aging in Bipolar Disorder (San Diego/La Jolla, CA)

UCSD Department of Psychiatry is conducting research on how short-term changes in inflammatory markers (signs of healing response) and emotion contribute to long-term changes in thinking in bipolar disorder.

The study includes:
– Daily smartphone surveys and wearing an activity-monitoring watch for 2 weeks
– Clinical interviews and health questionnaires
– Testing on memory, attention, and learning tasks
– 3 blood draws (15 mL each)

Inclusion criteria:
– Diagnosed with bipolar I disorder
– Between the ages 35 and 60 years old

Compensation is up to $165 for approximately 10 hours per year, spread out over 3 separate visits in a 2-week period. The study lasts for four years. The primary location is in La Jolla, but home visits and transportation may be available.


Nana Kori
Phone: 858-534-9439

Deadline for Enrollment: April 2020

Neural mechanisms of perception across the schizo-bipolar spectrum (Newark, NJ)

As part of this study, participants will be asked questions regarding their clinical/psychiatric history. In a separate session, participants will enter an fMRI scanner and perform behavioral tasks while looking at a screen. Participants will be compensated $20-$30 per hour for each session. Total compensation for completing the study could be $90-$200.


Lisa Cruz
Phone: 973-972-0084

Deadline for Enrollment: 3/31/2020

Clinical Medication Development for Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder (Miami , Florida)

The University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral is conducting a 14-week research study to see if two nutritional over-the-counter supplements help improve mood and reduce alcohol consumption in individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder. Participation is confidential.
Participants may continue on their medications and have a 1 in 3 chance of receiving Pregnenolone, Citicoline, or placebo.


Yamila Carmona, MA
Phone: 305-243-2686

Deadline for Enrollment: January 2020

A Phase 3, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group, Multicenter, Fixed-Dose Clinical Trial Evaluating the Efficacy, Safety And Tolerability Of Cariprazine In Patients With Bipolar I Depression (Hoffman Estates, IL)

You may be eligible to participate in this study if you are between 18-65 years old, have been diagnosed with Bipolar I Depression, are currently suffering a major depressive episode that has lasted more than 4 weeks but not longer than 12 months. This study lasts approximately 9 weeks, including a screening period of up to 14 days, followed by a 6 week treatment period and 1 week safety follow-up period.

Exclusion criteria includes prior participation with any clinical trials, involving experimental or investigational drugs, within 6 months. Initiation or termination of psychotherapy for depression within the 3 months. Treatment period is 6 weeks where participants will be randomized to receive either 1.5mg , 3.0mg of study drug or placebo.


Linda Orgler
Phone: 847-230-3591

Bipolar and Schizophrenia Network for Intermediate Phenotypes (Chicago, IL)

The overall goal of this study is to test for biological traits of psychosis that may be related to disorders ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder. In addition, we wish to examine whether these biological traits may be genetically inherited.

People ages 18-60 diagnosed with at least one of the following:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder with psychotic features

Participants will undergo clinical interview, cognitive testing, self-report questionnaires, one-time blood-draw to study DNA, EEG, Eye Tracking Movement recording and fMRI testing.You will receive a confidential, no-cost, evaluation to see if you qualify to enter. If eligible, you will receive a full clinical assessment at no cost. Compensation: Up to a maximum of $360.00 which includes $10 per visit travel reimbursement.


Barrett Kern
Phone: 773-834-6835

Deadline for Enrollment: 2/12/2020

Prediction of Clinical Response to SSRI Treatment in Bipolar Disorder Using Serotonin 1A Receptor PET Imaging (New York/NY)

The study is trying to understand what causes bipolar disorder and how medications treat bipolar depression. If you participate, you will have two different brain scans (an MRI and a PET scan) and antidepressant treatment for free. We will then be able to see whether information on the brain scans connects with how people do on the medications. The medications are common, and are not experimental. You will be able to discuss the treatment with Dr. Lan before starting the study to make sure that it is the proper treatment for you. The medications include valproate (Depakote) and either fluoxetine (Prozac) or citalopram (Celexa). The study is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). You will receive $400 in compensation when you complete the brain scans and will be offered up to six months of free appointments with a Columbia psychiatrist.


Allison Metts
Phone: 646 774 7560

Deadline for Enrollment: 9/30/2019

A Phase 1, Multicenter, Open-label, Dose-Escalation Trial to Assess the Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetics of Oral Brexpiprazole (OPC-34712) in Adolescents with Schizophrenia or Other Related Psychiatric Disorders (Baltimore, MD)

This research study is being conducted by Kennedy Krieger Institute/centers across the United States to determine whether brexpiprazole is safe and effective in adolescents with schizophrenia or a related psychiatric disorder.

If eligible, the participant will visit the Kennedy Krieger Institute up to 9 times over a period  of 102 days. Each visit will take between 30 minutes and 2 hours and will include psychological and behavioral testing, medical history, physical examination, blood draws, HIV testing, vital sign, ECG, urine drug screen, and pregnancy testing for females.

For each completed visit, participants will receive a reimbursement of $75.00 for their time and travel expenses. Please ask a study team member for specifics. All testing is done free of charge.

Please call 443-923-3850 for questions about specific co-ocurring treatments.


Rebecca Hinton
Phone: 443-923-3850

Rapid Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine in Bipolar Disorder (Bethesda, MD)

Bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (MDD) are common, severe, chronic and often life-threatening illnesses. Impairment in physical and social functioning resulting from depression can be just as severe as other chronic medical illnesses. Recent preclinical and clinical studies suggest that the glutamatergic system is involved in the mechanism of action of antidepressants. In two separate trials, we tested riluzole (an inhibitor of glutamate release) and found it to have antidepressant properties in patients with MDD and bipolar depression (BD). In another study (Substudy 1), we found that the non-competitive NMDA antagonist (ketamine) was effective in treatment-resistant MDD. Ketamine resulted in rapid, robust and relatively sustained antidepressant effects. Response with ketamine occurred within 2 hours and last approximately 1 week. The current protocol consists of 6 subs tudies designed to address 6 major questions. Two of these studies (1 and 5) have met their enrollment quota and sufficient analyzable data has been obtained

Standard antidepressant medications can take weeks or months to achieve their full effects. Several studies seek to better understand the causes of depression and evaluate the mechanisms in the brain that are related to rapid antidepressant improvement. NIH studies enrolls depressed persons between the ages of 18 and 65 (or those with bipolar disorder who are currently in a depressive phase) for an inpatient period of 2- to 3-months.  Researchers will evaluate how the experimental medication ketamine, versus placebo, affects glutamate in the brain and whether a rapid reduction of antidepressant symptoms (within hours) can be achieved and sustained.

The studies are conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  There is no cost to participate. We enroll eligible participants locally and from around the country. Travel arrangements provided and costs covered by NIMH. (Arrangements vary by distance and by specific study.) After completing the study participants receive short-term follow-up care while transitioning back to a provider.

Participants who consent will have a multimodal MRI and MEG scan in the drug-free period before receiving the intravenous infusion of either ketamine or saline solution. They will repeat the MEG procedure 4-5 hours after each of the two infusions, and will repeat the MRI procedure between the day of infusion to two days following the infusion.

Participants who show an antidepressant response (50% reduction in MADRS) following infusion 1 or infusion 2 will undergo an interim assessment using the same MRI and MEG scan battery to assess relapse (if the response is lost) or sustained response (if the response is retained) 10 to 11 days post-infusion, depending on availability of scanning resources.   Non-responders will undergo the interim MRI and MEG scan sessions at 10 to 11 days post-infusion as scan-time allows.

In a subset of 26 participants, total sleep deprivation (TSD) for 40 hours (7am to 11pm the subsequent day) will be investigated at the behavioral and neural level as a rapid acting antidepressant prior to Phase II of this study.  Individuals who participate in this optional component of the subs study will require an additional 7 days for their drug free period. In the evening prior to the sleep deprivation period, participants will undergo a baseline 3T MRI (within 2 days of TSD) and a high field 7T MRI scan (within 2 days of TSD) to acquire images of the brain prior to sleep deprivation. This will be followed by one 7T scan after the sleep deprivation period toward the end of the 40 hour period, but before recovery sleep. During the MRI scan participants will play a simple reward-learning task and also perform a cognitive emotional task whereby emotional faces will be presented, while functional images are acquired. Additionally, two MEG scans and two sleep EEGs will be acquired to examine the electrophysiology of response and relapse. During the MEG scan participants will wear an MEG compatible EEG cap and leads. Total sleep deprivation will occur approximately 1 week following the beginning of the drug-free period.

Inclusion criteria for participants with MDD or BD

  1. Male or female subjects, 18 to 55 years of age.
  2. Age of onset less than 40 years of age.
  3. Female subjects of childbearing age must be using a medically accepted method of contraception.
  4. Each subject must have a level of understanding sufficient to agree to all required tests and examinations and sign an informed consent document.
  5. Subjects must fulfill DSM-IV criteria for Major Depression single episode or recurrent without psychotic features, or Bipolar Disorder (296.5 for Bipolar I Disorder or 296.89 for Bipolar II Disorder) without psychotic symptoms based on clinical assessment and confirmed by a structured diagnostic interview (SCID-P).
  6. Subjects must have an initial score on the MADRS of at least 20 at screening, and at baseline for Phase I of Substudy 4. Subjects with bipolar disorder must have a YMRS of 12 or less at baseline for Phase I.
  7. Current or past history of lack of response to one adequate antidepressant trial, operationally defined using the Antidepressant Treatment History Form (ATHF); a failed adequate trial of ECT would count as an adequate antidepressant trial.
  8. Current major depressive episode of at least 4 weeks duration.
  9. In women of childbearing age, a negative pregnancy test within 24 hours of MRI.

Exclusion criteria for participants with MDD or BD

  1. Current psychotic features or a diagnosis of Schizophrenia or any other psychotic disorder as defined in the DSM-IV.
  2. Subjects with a history of DSM-IV drug or alcohol dependency or abuse (except for caffeine or nicotine    dependence) within the preceding 3 months. In addition, subjects who currently are using drugs (except for caffeine or nicotine) must not  have used illicit substances in the 2 weeks prior to screen and must have a negative alcohol and drug urine test (except for prescribed benzodiazepines) urine test at screening.
  3. Female subjects who are either pregnant or nursing.
  4. Serious, unstable illnesses including hepatic, renal, gastroenterologic, respiratory, cardiovascular (including ischemic heart disease), endocrinologic, neurologic, immunologic, or hematologic disease.
  5. Presence of any medical illness likely to alter brain morphology and/or physiology (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) even if controlled by medications.
  6. Clinically significant abnormal laboratory tests.
  7. Subjects with clinical hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
  8. Subjects with one or more seizures without a clear and resolved etiology.
  9. Treatment with a reversible MAOI within two weeks prior to Phase I of Substudy 4.
  10. Treatment with fluoxetine within five weeks or aripiprazole within three weeks before Phase I of Substudy 4.
  11. Treatment with any other concomitant medication (Appendix 4) 14 days prior to Phase I of Substudy 4.
  12. Presence of metallic (ferromagnetic) implants (e.g, heart pacemaker, aneurysm clip).
  13. Subjects who, in the investigator’s judgment, pose a current serious suicidal or homicidal risk, or who have a MADRS item 10 score of >4.

Inclusion criteria for control subjects

  1. Age 18-55 years.
  2. Written informed consent completed.
  3. In women of childbearing age, a negative pregnancy test within 24 hours of MRI.

Exclusion criteria for control subjects

  1. Current or past Axis I diagnosis
  2. Presence of metallic (ferromagnetic) implants (e.g., heart pacemaker, aneurysm clips).
  3. Presence of medical illness likely to alter brain morphology and/or physiology (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) even if controlled by medications.
  4. Treatment with any of the exclusionary medications detailed in Appendix 4 14 days prior to Phase 1 of the Substudy 4.
  5. Current or past alcohol or substance abuse or dependence diagnosis (except for nicotine or caffeine).
  6. Presence of psychiatric disorders in first-degree relatives.
  7. Female subjects who are either pregnant or nursing.


Libby Jolkovsky, M.S.
Phone: 301-402-9347

NIH Research Studies: Bipolar Disorder & Severe Irritability Symptoms (Bethesda, Maryland)

How do the brain and the symptoms change as children grow up?
(Enrolling Nationwide, Eligible Participants Ages 6-17)

Researchers will describe over time the moods and behavior of children use specialized testing and brain imaging to learn about specific brain changes associated with bipolar disorder or severe irritability in children. Studies involve 1-5 outpatient visits, with follow up visits as the child grows up. All clinical evaluations, research procedures, and outpatient visits are free of cost. Children and parents are compensated for participation. Travel and lodging expenses are paid by NIMH.

Participants must have a bipolar diagnosis, or have symptoms of severe irritability. Irritability symptoms include: difficulty handling frustration (severe temper tantrums and rages) and “hyper” behavior (distractible, hyperactive, trouble sleeping).

Call for more information and eligibility criteria.


NIMH Irritable Kids
Phone: 301-496-8381, TTY: 1-866-411-1010

Deadline for Enrollment: Ongoing

Developing Brain Function in Adolescent (Chicago, IL)

Developing Brain Function in Adolescent Bipolar Disorder

This study focuses on the developmental changes in cognitive and affective neural circuitry functioning in adolescents with Pediatric Bipolar Disorder (PBD) over a three-year period. We will characterize the course of illness and associated neurocognitive function in patients with PBD as well as determine the association between brain function and behavior.

During the study, participants will complete a baseline diagnostic interview, clinical assessments, neurocognitive and neuropsychological tests, and a functional MRI brain scan. Participants will also have the option to draw blood for pharmacogenetic analyses. Testing will be repeated once a year for three years after the baseline visit, four visits total.


Allison Lowes
Phone: (312) 355-1168

Deadline for Enrollment: Ongoing

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