Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program

The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief at Massachusetts General Hospital conducts state-of-the-art research aimed at improving the standard of care for people suffering from anxiety disorders.
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Call the center 1-866-449-6779

Overview

anxiety doctor
Naomi M. Simon, MD, MSc works with a patient in the CATSD

The psychiatrists and psychologists on staff in the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders (CATSD) and Complicated Grief Program at Massachusetts General Hospital explore the causes and treatments for a variety of anxiety-related disorders and seek to also learn more about the underlying causes and course of these disorders.

The research studies conducted by the CATSD provide the opportunity for staff and patients to work together on identifying and developing new treatment methods for these anxiety-related disorders.

 

Our Research

Our Staff

Our psychiatrists and psychologists draw on years of experience and are focused on treating and conducting extensive research.

Our Specialties

We work on a variety of anxiety disorders through our treatment and research program. Learn more about our program's approach to each of those disorders here:

  • Complicated grief - a clinically significant grief reaction that occurs at least six months after the death of a loved one
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - this disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry about a number of life issues
  • Panic disorder - this disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks, followed by persistent concern about having more attacks or worry about the implications of having an attack
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - this disorder can develop following exposure to one or more of a variety of traumatic events
  • Social anxiety - individuals with social phobia typically feel extremely anxious about being the focus of attention and often avoid social and performance situations

Research Projects

The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program conducts research on post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated grief disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Enhancing fear extinction via angiotensin type 1 receptor inhibition: A randomized controlled trial in post-traumatic stress disorder

Study Sponsor: Department of Defense

Description: The purpose of this research study is to see whether Losartan, an FDA-approved medication that is commonly prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure, may be effective for treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After medical and psychiatric evaluations are completed, eligible participants are randomly assigned (that is, by chance) to one of two study medications lasting approximately 12 weeks: Losartan or Placebo (a sugar pill without active medication).

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Adults ages 18-70 who have PTSD or post-traumatic stress symptoms
  • PTSD symptoms experienced for at least three months

Compensation: Participants will be paid $25 upon completion of the intake visit, as well as $25 for each of 7 study assessment visits, for a maximum total of $200.

Study Contact: Sarah Wieman, 617-726-1579, swieman@partners.org


Complicated Grief Disorder

We are not currently conducting any studies for complicated grief disorder. Please check back soon for updates.


Panic Disorder

Optimizing cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder: Examining mechanisms of treatment change using an intra-individual network of panic attacks

Description: The purpose of this research study is to examine how symptoms of panic disorder change during cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for panic disorder. The aim of this type of research is to focus on the symptoms and experiences of each person through the course of treatment, in order to develop a framework for a personalized medicine approach to treating panic disorder. All participants will receive seven sessions of CBT. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Individuals 18 years of age and older with a primary diagnosis of panic disorder (as determined by the psychiatrists who conduct our initial screening process)
  • Participants need to own a smart phone to complete the pre- and post- treatment assessments.
  • Participants cannot have agoraphobia that limits their ability to travel to weekly sessions. Participants cannot be at current risk of suicide.
  • Psychotropic medication is permitted if the participant is on a stable dose.
  • Within the last 3 months, participants cannot have received psychotherapy directed at the treatment of panic disorder. Prior non-response to adequately delivered exposure therapy also disqualifies.

Please call our phone screen line at 866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org for a full phone screen to determine if you would be eligible to come into the clinic to meet with one of the study doctors.

Study Contact: Samantha Hellberg, 617-724-0666, shellberg@partners.org


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GATE: Generalized anxiety – A treatment evaluation

Description: We are currently conducting a research study comparing three different programs designed to reduce stress and anxiety in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, filling out questionnaires, ECGs, saliva samples, a blood draw, a urine test for drugs of abuse, and study visits over 12 weeks. No medication is involved. Each study visit will take a few hours.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (worry a lot, anxious or nervous often, have muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration)
  • You are over 18 years old
  • You do not currently practice mind-body techniques (e.g., yoga, meditation, Tai-Chi, etc.) or cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • You are not currently in psychotherapy for generalized anxiety

To learn more or enroll, please fill out our online form.

Compensation: Qualified participants will be compensated $40 for each of the four clinician assessments across the duration of the study, for a total of $160 for participation.

Study Contact: Madelyn Frumkin, 617-726-3508, mfrumkin@partners.org


Social Anxiety Disorder

We are not currently conducting any studies for social anxiety disorder. Please check back soon for updates.

 

Our staff

Psychiatrists

  • Naomi M. Simon, MD, MSc

    Director, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Chief Medical Officer, Home Base
    Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    Dr. Naomi M. Simon, a board-certified psychiatrist, is director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Simon received an MD from Harvard Medical School and completed a medical internship and residency in psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital/New York State Psychiatric Institute where she also served as chief resident. In addition, she completed fellowship training in consultation psychiatry at Mass General and has a masters in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

    Dr. Simon’s major clinical and research interests include optimizing initial and next step psychotherapy and medication treatments for anxiety and stress related disorders, and understanding the presentation and biological impact of trauma, loss, and anxiety disorders. She has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator on numerous studies aimed at improving our understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and the syndrome of complicated grief.

    Publications by Dr. Simon

  • T.H. Eric Bui, MD, PhD

    Associate Director for Research, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Associated Director for Research, Home Base
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    Dr. T.H. Eric Bui is assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and currently serves as associate director for research at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program, and associate director for research at the Red Sox Foundation & Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program.

    His main research interests include furthering the understanding and treatment of anxiety and stress-related disorders, including both PTSD and the newly defined condition of complicated grief. His research focuses on elucidating the neurobiological and phenomenological bases of these conditions in order to develop novel treatment interventions. He has served and currently serves as co-investigator on many federally-funded studies, and has recently received grants for pilot studies to develop and test novel mind-body interventions with bereavement and stress-related conditions.

    Dr. Bui is member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, of the Société Française de Psychiatrie de l’Enfant et de l’Adolescent et Disciplines Associées, and of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He received an MD from Toulouse University, and completed his residency at Toulouse University Hospital (France). In addition, he worked as a faculty at Toulouse University Hospital for three years, and completed a PhD in Neuroscience at Toulouse University. He has received various awards as a young investigator, including a travel award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the Prix Bretesche de Médecine from the Académie des Sciences, Inscriptions, et Belles Lettres de Toulouse.

    Publications by Dr. Bui

  • Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD

    Staff Psychiatrist, The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program

    Dr. Paolo Cassano is assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, director of photobiomodulation at Mass General's Depression and Clinical Research Program, and a staff psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program. Dr. Cassano received both his MD in medicine and surgery, and his PhD in clinical neuro-psychopharmacology from the University of Pisa in Italy. He pursued postdoctoral studies in mood and anxiety disorders with the Depression and Clinical Research Program (DCRP) and graduated from the Mass General-McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Program in 2009.

    Dr. Cassano’s research has focused on developing new treatments for major depressive disorder (MDD) and better characterizing response to treatment by examining comorbid conditions, cultural factors and trauma. During his PhD studies in Italy, he co-led several research projects focusing on the use of two anti-Parkinson drugs for the treatment of resistant-depression. After coming to the United States he joined the DCRP at Mass General where he continued to study mood disorders, comorbidity and resistance to treatment as a co-investigator in the STAR*D — Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression — trial.

    Publications by Dr. Cassano

  • John J. Worthington, MD

    Staff Psychiatrist, The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School

    Dr. Worthington is a staff psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He received his MD from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., completed his residency at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, NC and did a research fellowship in Clinical Psychopharmacology at Mass General.

    Currently he is an investigator on several National Institutes of Mental Health studies involving the course of treatment-refractory panic disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and the predication of outcome during antidepressant discontinuation. He is also an investigator in numerous phase II and phase III clinical trials sponsored by several pharmaceutical companies. He has published over 150 articles, reviews and posters and he lectures in national and international forums. His areas of clinical interest include the effects of alcohol and substance use on mood and anxiety disorders, acute and long-term treatment plans of patients with panic disorder and depression, development of novel pharmacologic agents for mood and anxiety disorders, and uses of combined cognitive-behavioral and pharmacologic therapies for treatment-refractory patients.

    Publications by Dr. Worthington

  • Elizabeth A. Hoge, MD

    Consultant, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University School of Medicine

    Dr. Elizabeth A. Hoge is a board-certified psychiatrist and a consultant to the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Related Disorders. Dr. Hoge studies biological changes that occur in the body as a result of stress and trauma, which may serve as markers for anxiety disorders and may elucidate pathophysiology of these disorders and indicate pathways that could be targeted for novel pharmacologic therapies. Her work also focuses on identifying biological markers of resilience which may protect some people from developing anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder after a trauma.

    Dr. Hoge has received awards from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit of the National Institute of Mental Health related to her work in anxiety disorders. She also received a Harvard Medical School Dupont Warren Fellowship award to study the effect of treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Dr. Hoge also received a five-year NIH grant to measure the effect of meditation training on anxiety and biological markers of stress, such as stress hormones and inflammatory markers. Dr. Hoge also was awarded a CIMIT Innovation grant to examine the effect of the neuropeptide oxytocin on memory consolidation.

    Publications by Dr. Hoge

  • Mireya Nadal, MD, PhD

    Staff Psychiatrist, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    Dr. Mireya Nadal-Vicens, a board-certified psychiatrist, is an assistant in the Department of Psychiatry and an instructor at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Nadal earned her MD from Harvard Medical School and her PhD from the Department of Neurosciences at Harvard University. Dr. Nadal completed a medical internship in pediatrics at Mass General and adult psychiatry residency as well as a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Mass General and McLean Hospital. In addition, Dr. Nadal has a masters in science from Stanford University and is obtaining a masters in medical scicence from Harvard Medical School.

    Dr. Nadal’s research interests include unraveling the biological and molecular mechanisms underlying anxiety and mood disorders. She is a co-investigator on multiple clinical trials in anxiety and traumatic stress disorders and a principal investigator for a basic science project focused on possible new drug discovery for compounds relevant to psychiatric disease. Dr. Nadal has been awarded the George Ginsberg fellowship for excellence in education and teaching, and was one of two researchers nationally to be awarded the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education/Wyeth Psychiatric Research Fellowship in 2008. In addition she has been awarded funding from the NARSAD Foundation (the Brain and Behavior Research Fund) and is the 2010-2011 Rappaport Research Scholar in Neuroscience at Mass General.

    Publications by Dr. Nadal

  • Devon Hinton, MD, PhD

    Staff Psychiatrist, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program

    Dr. Devon Hinton is a board-certified psychiatrist and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. After receiving his MD, Dr. Hinton completed his medical internship and his residency in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (Longwood program). He also has a PhD in Medical Anthropology from Harvard University. Dr. Hinton’s major clinical and research interests include the culturally sensitive assessment and treatment of PTSD and panic disorder in traumatized refugee and ethnic minority populations. He is fluent in several languages, including Cambodian and Spanish. He has served as a principal investigator on numerous studies examining the phenomenology and treatment of PTSD, panic attacks, and panic disorder in Southeast Asian (Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese) and Latino populations. Dr. Hinton has been the Principal Investigator on studies funded by the National Institute of Mental Health on developing culturally sensitive treatment of traumatized refugees.

    Dr. Hinton is a member of the DSM-V Cultural Study subgroup and an advisor to the Anxiety, OC, Posttraumatic, and Dissociative Disorders Work Group of DSM–V (American Psychiatric Association). He is the co-editor of the book Culture and Panic Disorder and is the first author on over 100 chapters or original research articles.

    Publications by Dr. Hinton

  • Rachel A. Ross, MD, PhD

    Staff Psychiatrist, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program

    Dr. Rachel Ross, a board-certified psychiatrist, is an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in the Department of Psychiatry at Mass General and at McLean Hospital, with an affiliate appointment at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She earned her MD and PhD as part of the MSTP at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, NY, focusing on hypothalamic nutrient sensing in relationship to obesity. She completed residency training in adult psychiatry at Mass General and McLean Hospital.

    Dr. Ross's basic science research with the Ressler Lab at McLean and the Lowell Lab at BIDMC utilizes genetic engineering techniques in mice to study central neuro-circuitry controlling behavior involved in metabolism (ranging from feeding to fertility) and in stress response. Her work within the clinic centers on biomarkers to describe the pathophysiology involved in human presentations of anxiety and eating disorders. Dr. Ross focuses particularly on the role of neuropeptides emanating from the hypothalamus in animals and in humans, within these circuits and in circulation to better understand the role that the brain plays in whole body behavior. Dr Ross has received awards from the NIH and Harvard Medical School, and is currently funded through the NIH KL2/Harvard Catalyst CMeRIT.

    Publications by Dr. Ross

Psychologists

  • Elizabeth Goetter, PhD

    Staff Psychologist, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Staff Psychologist, Home Base Program

    Dr. Elizabeth Goetter is a clinical psychologist in the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program and assistant in Psychology at Mass General. She also serves as director of the outpatient clinic at the Red Sox Foundation/Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, where she specializes in the treatment of veterans with PTSD and other deployment-related mental health concerns. Dr. Goetter received her PhD from Drexel University and completed her doctoral internship at the University of California, San Diego and San Diego VA Healthcare System.

    Dr. Goetter's clinical and research interests surround the utilization of and access to empirically supported treatments for anxiety and traumatic stress disorders. Dr. Goetter has been trained in a variety of cognitive behavioral therapies for anxiety and traumatic stress disorders, including Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD. Dr. Goetter is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA), and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS).

    Publications by Dr. Goetter

  • Luana Marques, PhD

    Director, Community Psychiatry Program for Research in Implementation and Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments (PRIDE)
    Staff Psychologist, Massachusetts General Hospital
    Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School

    Dr. Luana Marques is the director and founder of Community Psychiatry PRIDE at Mass General and an associate professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Marques completed her PhD in clinical psychology at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and her clinical internship in the cognitive behavioral track (CBT) at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in 2007.

    Dr. Marques’ major clinical and research interests include the implementation of evidence-based practices for individuals suffering from a variety of behavioral health disorders in diverse communities. Her goal is to decrease disparities in care for individuals experiencing behavioral health difficulties, especially among low-income and ethnic minorities. Upon beginning her work in community mental health clinics, Dr. Marques became increasingly aware of the substantial implementation gap in evidence-based psychotherapeutic treatments for anxiety and trauma-related disorders. Her research now centers primarily on reducing the disproportionate mental health burden among underserved populations in resource-constricted community clinics across Massachusetts.

    Publications by Dr. Marques

  • Meredith Charney, PhD

    Director of Psychotherapy and Training, Center for Anxiety an Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Staff Psychologist, Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program
    Psychologist, Home Base Training Institute

    Dr. Meredith Charney is a clinical psychologist in the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program and the Red Sox Foundation/Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program and is an assistant in psychology at Mass General. Dr. Charney received her PhD from Boston University and completed her doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

    Dr. Charney’s clinical interests include the use of empirically supported treatments for various disorders including anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and complicated grief (CG). She has extensive experience providing evidence-based therapies including prolonged exposure and cognitive processing therapy to patients with PTSD as well as complicated grief therapy to patients with CG. Her research has focused on the impact of traumatic exposure and loss on psychological and psychosocial functioning in various patient populations including refugees and veterans. Dr. Charney is a member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). In addition to her clinical and research work, Dr. Charney is committed to training through her work as a supervisor of interns and fellows and her involvement in training community providers in evidence-based treatments for PTSD.

    Publications by Dr. Charney

  • Amanda W. Baker, PhD

    Staff Psychologist, The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program

    Dr. Amanda Baker is a licensed psychologist in the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program. Dr. Baker received her PhD from Boston University and completed her predoctoral internship at Mass General.

    Dr. Baker's clinical and research interests involve mediators and moderators of the etiology and cognitive behavioral treatments for anxiety. She recently received a two-year grant from Harvard Catalyst/The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center/National Institutes of Health to study intra-individual networks of panic disorder in hopes of being able to personalize CBT treatments in the future.  She has been trained in a variety of evidence-based assessment methods and cognitive behavioral therapies for anxiety, mood, OC spectrum and traumatic stress disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and tic disorders. Dr. Baker was previously awarded a Livingston Fellowship for Young Investigators from Harvard Medical School to conduct research on anxiety sensitivity and suicidality in OC spectrum and anxiety disorders. Dr. Baker is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Depression and Anxiety Disorders (ADAA).

    Publications by Dr. Baker

  • Rachel Zack Ishikawa, PhD

    Staff Psychologist, The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program

    Rachel Zack Ishikawa, PhD is a clinical psychologist and assistant in psychology in the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and the Geriatric Psychiatry Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Ishikawa received her PhD from Clark University and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Victims of Violence Program at the Cambridge Health Alliance. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in International Health from Emory University.

    Dr. Ishikawa’s clinical interests include the use of empirically supported treatments for anxiety and traumatic stress disorders and strategies to improve access to care for ethnic minority groups and older adults. Dr. Ishikawa’s research has examined factors related to mental health treatment disparities among underserved populations. Dr. Ishikawa is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Statisticians

  • Susanne Hoeppner, PhD, MApStat

    Biostatistician

    Susanne S. Hoeppner, PhD, MApStat, is a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program and an assistant investigator in psychology at the Mass General/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hoeppner received her PhD in oceanography and coastal sciences and her Master in Applied Statistics from Louisiana State University and conducted three years of postdoctoral research in climate change ecology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Purdue University. With more than 12 years of experience in research and clinical investigation, she has extensive training and expertise in experimental design, statistical analysis and simulation modeling.

    Dr. Hoeppner's clinical interests are in modeling dynamic health behavior change and positive psychology. She has served as the principal statistician on pivotal trials approved by the FDA and has designed and analyzed Phase I-III studies in addiction, psychiatry, and psychology. She also has ample experience setting up, updating, and overseeing the use of electronic data capture forms as implemented via REDCap, having designed and managed such databases for several single- and multi-site clinical trials at MASS GENERAL, and routinely trains and advises research assistants, data managers, and clinical staff on principles of good clinical practice.

    Publications by Dr. Hoeppner

Post Docs, Clinical Interns, Graduate Students and Residents

  • Donald Robinaugh, PhD

    Clinical Fellow in Psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital

    Donald Robinaugh is a clinical fellow in psychology (psychiatry) at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He completed his PhD in the Clinical Science program at Harvard University. Donald’s clinical training has focused on empirically supported treatments for anxiety disorders and complicated grief (CG). Donald’s research focuses on examining cognitive processes involved in the development and maintenance of emotional disorders following loss or trauma. He is currently conducting studies examining autobiographical memory and prospection deficits in CG, information processing biases in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the association between overgeneral/abstract cognitive biases and memory deficits in CG and PTSD.

  • Mary C. Zeng, MD

    Resident Physician in Psychiatry, Mass General/McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Program

    Dr. Mary C. Zeng is a resident psychiatrist in the Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital Psychiatry Residency Program, where she splits her time between clinical care and research with the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program. She completed her undergraduate degree at Brown University, and graduated magna cum laude with commendation in investigative scholarship from the State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine. Dr. Zeng has  interests in trauma- and stressor-related disorders, health services, and health policy, especially as they relate to military and veteran mental health care. She is a Public Psychiatry Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

  • Ryan J. Jacoby, MA

    Clinical Fellow in Psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital

    Ryan Jane Jacoby, MA is a clinical fellow in psychology completing her pre-doctoral internship in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy track at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ryan attended Williams College for her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is completing her PhD in clinical psychology in the Anxiety Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she defended her dissertation entitled, “A Translational Study of the Mechanisms of Exposure Therapy for Obsessions: Gradual vs. Variable Exposure Intensity.” Ryan’s clinical and research interests are broadly focused on the nature and treatment of OCD and anxiety disorders, including specific interests in psychological mechanisms of change in exposure-based therapy for anxiety-related problems (e.g., inhibitory learning approaches to exposure) as well as treatment augmentation strategies that capitalize on these mechanisms of action. She is also interested in transdiagnostic psychological processes (e.g., intolerance of uncertainty) as well as improving behavioral and psychophysiological measurement of these processes and therapy outcomes.

  • Nicole J. LeBlanc, MA

    Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology, Harvard University

    Nicole J. LeBlanc, MA, is a clinical fellow in psychology, completing predoctoral clinical training at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program. She is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Harvard University, where she conducts research examining the association between interpersonal factors and the development and maintenance of emotional disorders. Nicole is currently working on her dissertation, which is a study examining the efficacy of brief cognitive-behavioral interventions to reduce loneliness among young adults. Her clinical interests include empirical-supported treatments for anxiety and traumatic stress disorders. She is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA), and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP).

Research Assistants

Samantha Hellberg, BA, Wesleyan University
Program Coordinator

Madelyn Frumkin, BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Clinical Research Coordinator

Emily O’Day, BA, Williams College
Clinical Research Coordinator

Sarah Wieman, BA, Williams College
Clinical Research Coordinator

FAQ

What to expect in a research study

First step: Brief phone interview

The first step to participating in a research study is a brief phone interview, which will help us determine whether any of our studies might be appropriate for you. If eligible, we will invite you in for an initial screening visit.

Please call 1-866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) for this phone interview.

Initial visit

The initial visit for all of our studies takes two to three hours and involves:

  • A medical and psychiatric history
  • Lab work to ensure that you are healthy and eligible for the study

At this visit, our research staff will review the specific risks and benefits of participating in a study with you.

The number of visits and their specific type(s) after the initial appointment varies depending on which study you enroll in. Our studies currently range from eight weeks to six months in length. You will typically be asked to come in about once a week to meet your doctor for assessment or treatment. The length of these visits depends on the study. You may also be asked to fill out some questionnaires and have your vital signs taken to ensure that you are healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Participation

  • How will my privacy be protected if I enroll in a research study at your clinic?
  • Will my participation in a research study go on my medical record?
  • Will my insurance company be notified of my participation in a research study?
  • Is there any cost to me for participating in a research study?
  • Is there compensation for participating in a research study?
  • I am pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future. Can I participate in a study?
  • Can I be seen through your clinic as a private patient?
  • Can children or adolescents be seen at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders?

Contact us

Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress Disorders

One Bowdoin

One Bowdoin Square, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779)
Email: anxietystudy@mgh.harvard.edu

 

Directions

Our center is located on the 6th floor of One Bowdoin Square (the pink granite, high-rise building next to a small public park at the intersection of Cambridge Street and New Chardon Street). We are located directly across the street from the Rite-Aid Pharmacy on Cambridge Street.

Shuttle service

There is a free Partners HealthCare shuttle bus that runs between Mass General and North Station (where you can connect to the commuter rail and MBTA orange and green lines). Please allow 20-30 minutes for van arrival. Get more information about the shuttle bus and see the shuttle bus schedule.

Parking

The Yawkey Center garage is the closest Mass General garage to the free shuttle. After you have parked, go to the Yawkey Information Desk to ask about the shuttle bus, which picks up in front of the Yawkey Building. You can call the Mass General Transportation Office at 617-726-2250 to get more information about the shuttle.

The closest stop to our center is 25 New Chardon Street (at the traffic signal). When you get off the shuttle, walk across New Chardon Street to One Bowdoin Square.

 

Complicated Grief

Complicated grief (CG) has also been called "traumatic grief" or "pathological grief" at times. CG grief usually occurs after the death of a loved one. Individuals with CG may find that they are unable to accept the death and that their feelings remain strong and persistent. In addition, there may be certain types of disturbing ideas that seem to inhibit the natural process of gradual diminishing grief intensity. Another way of saying this is that grief isn't working and the bereaved person is "stuck" in the grieving process. When this happens, grief intensity remains high and adjustment does not occur.

Complicated grief is characterized by a number of symptoms that continue for six months or more after a loss:

  • Marked depression
  • Anxiety
  • Preoccupation with the deceased
  • Disbelief or longing
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Withdrawal or avoidance

These symptoms can cause substantial distress and have been associated with impaired quality of life, poor medical outcomes and increased rates of suicide.

Standard treatments include medications aimed at specific symptoms such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medictions, and sleep-aids. Recent studies suggest that antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and paroxetine (Paxil) may help relieve symptoms of CG. There is also a short-term therapy recently developed and still being studied by M. Katherine Shear, MD specifically for complicated grief called "Complicated Grief Therapy."

Use this brief questionnaire to evaluate the presence of complicated grief symptoms.

You can explore our external Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders site to learn more about complicated grief or find out more about participating in a treatment study.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org.

Generalized Anxiety

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) find it difficult to control their worry. This inability to stop worrying or to relax, even in the absence of major life stresses, is one of the cardinal features of the disorder.

Individuals with GAD also often experience a number of associated symptoms:

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance

The anxiety and worry is considered a disorder if it is severe enough to cause an individual significant distress or interferes with social or occupational functioning. Adults with GAD often worry excessively about everyday, routine life circumstances such as possible job responsibilities, finances, or the health of family members. A number of effective treatments are available for GAD, such as anti-anxiety medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy (which reduces worry through changes in thinking and behavior patterns).

You can explore our external Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders site to learn more about GAD or find out more about participating in a GAD treatment study.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 1-866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of persistent concern about having more attacks, worry about the implications of having an attack (e.g., is there something wrong with my heart?) or a change in behavior related to the attacks (such as avoidance).

Panic attacks are periods of marked fear or anxiety that tend to come on quickly, peak within 10 minutes and are accompanied by distressing symptoms of arousal including:

  • Palpitations or heart racing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating or flushing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Abdominal distress
  • Spaciness or feeling as if you may be going crazy, dying or losing control

Many patients with panic disorder develop agoraphobia, which is a concern about being in places or situations in which help or easy escape may not be available in the event of having an attack, or in which previous attacks have occurred. Some individuals with agoraphobia avoid the situations they are afraid of or require a companion to accompany them, others endure them with a great deal of distress.

Panic disorder can cause significant difficulties, including marked distress, social and job-related dysfunction, increased utilization of medical services (e.g., visits to doctors and emergency rooms) and increased rates of depression and alcohol abuse. A number of effective treatments are available, including medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines ("Valium-like" medications) and psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

You can explore our external Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders site to learn more about panic disorder or find out more about participating in a treatment study.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org.

PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Many kinds of traumatic events can lead to the development of PTSD, such as:

  • Car accidents
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Combat exposure
  • Learning about the unexpected death or injury of a loved one

Although not all individuals exposed to a trauma develop PTSD, some individuals experience a number of distressing psychological and physical symptoms including re-experiencing, avoidance or numbing and hyperarousal.

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Recurrent and intrusive thoughts about the event
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares
  • Flashbacks to the trauma
  • Becoming extremely upset or anxious when reminded of the trauma

Avoidance and numbing symptoms include:

  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the trauma
  • Avoiding places, situations or people reminiscent of the trauma
  • Being unable to recall certain parts of what happened
  • Losing interest in previously valued activities
  • Feeling distant or detached from others
  • Having difficulty experiencing strong emotions
  • Feeling a lack of interest or hope in the future (e.g., feeling one will never have a career, get married, live to old age)

Hyperarousal symptoms include:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hypervigilant even if there is no reason to be
  • Being easily startled

In order to receive a PTSD diagnosis, symptoms must persist for at least one month and cause significant distress, interference, or impairment in work, school, or social functioning. Symptoms may last for several months, or become even more chronic. For some, PTSD symptoms emerge six months or more after the traumatic event.

Treatment of PTSD

There are a number of effective medications available to treat the symptoms of PTSD, including antidepressants and some newer anti-anxiety or mood-stabilizing medications. Many individuals with PTSD do well with treatment that includes both psychotherapy and medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), including prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy and skills training in affect and interpersonal regulation, is effective for many patients with PTSD. CBT usually involves working closely with a therapist to systematically process the traumatic event, identify and modify negative thoughts that interfere with recovery from the trauma and learn to face situations or feelings associated with the trauma. In addition, CBT helps individuals learn skills for managing difficult emotions and overcoming difficulties in interpersonal relationships.

You can explore our external Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders site to learn more about PTSD or find out more about participating in a treatment study.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org.

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

When an individual with social phobia enters or thinks about entering a feared situation, anxiety increases and for some may result in symptoms of a panic attack. Examples of feared situations include persistent fear of public speaking, meeting new people, attending parties, going to school or having social contact through a job.

Although most people have some anxiety about social and/or performance situations, these fears are more severe, persist and may limit participation in or enjoyment of every day activities for an individual with social phobia. Social anxiety symptoms may interfere with success or completion of school, making new friends, creating relationships and employment.

Nonetheless, many individuals suffer with social phobia for many years without a diagnosis or treatment. However, there are a number of effective treatments available. Options include medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines ("Valium-like" medications) and psychotherapy (counseling or "talk therapy"), especially cognitive behavioral therapy.

You can explore our external Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders site to learn more about social anxiety or find out more about participating in a treatment study.

If you are interested in participating in a treatment study, please call 866-44-WORRY (866-449-6779) or email us at anxietystudy@partners.org.

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