Clinical Research

The Center is investigating the efficacy of treatments for Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Complicated Grief, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, while seeking to learn more about the underlying causes and course of Anxiety Disorders.

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Research Projects


Social Anxiety Disorder

Neural Mechanisms of Fear Extinction Across Anxiety Disorders
Study Contact: Peter Rosencrans, (617) 643-3070, prosencrans@partners.org

Study Description: The purpose of this research study is to find out more about how the human brain forms and stores emotional memory. In particular, we would like to understand how human beings learn not to fear. We hope this study will help us understand why people with anxiety disorders cannot control unwanted fear. If eligible for this study, you will have two fMRI scans, during which you will perform some small tasks, such as finger tapping, while the MRI makes detailed pictures (images) of your brain.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized social anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You are right-handed.
  • You have normal (or corrected) vision.
  • You have been on stable psychotropic medications for at least 8 weeks and are not currently taking benzodiazepines.
  • You do not have any metal in your body.

People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.

People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past year are excluded. This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing a series of questionnaires, providing a urine sample and having two fMRI scanning sessions over the course of three study visits. Each study visit will take about two hours, and participants will be paid $200 for completing the entire study. If you leave the study early, we will pay you $30 per hour for your time spent up to that point. If you complete only the mental health evaluation, you will receive $60.

 

The Utility of Threat Detection in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder
Study Sponsor: NIH
Study Contact: Sophie Palitz, (617) 726-1570, sapalitz@partners.org

 You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized social anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You have normal or corrected-to-normal visual acuity.
  • You are not currently taking any psychiatric medications.

People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.

People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past six months are excluded.

This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing twelve computer tasks, and filling out a packet of questionnaires over the course of two study visits. Each study visit will take about four hours, and participants will be paid up to $150 after completing both visits.

Neural and Genetic Basis of Negative Valence Traits
Study Contact:
Ben Kovachy, (617) 724-0666, bkovachy@partners.org

Study Description: Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety? We are looking for volunteers for a research study to determine the effects of genes, behavior, and the brain on anxiety.

You may eligible if you:

  • Suffer from symptoms of anxiety
  • Are between 18 and 40 years old
  • Are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

This study involves:

  • 1 visit to the MGH Main Campus for a clinical interview, DNA sample collection (saliva), and urine sample collection (approximately 3 hours)
  • 1 visit to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging for an fMRI and self-report questionnaires (approximately 3.5 hours)
  • Optional supplemental survey that can be completed at home

You will receive compensation after completion of the study. Validation for parking may be provided.

Complicated Grief Disorder

Optimizing the Treatment of Complicated Grief
Study Sponsors are: NIH and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Study Contact: Arielle Horenstein, (617) 726-4585, ahorenstein@partners.org

Description: The purpose of this research study is to find out how effective the SSRI antidepressant, citalopram (CIT), is administered over a 16 week period with or without a targeted psychotherapy called Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT). After medical and psychiatric evaluations are completed, eligible subjects are randomly assigned (that is, by chance) to one of 4 study treatments (with a 1 in 4 chance of being assigned to each group):

Key Eligibility Criteria:

  • Individuals 18 years or older with a primary diagnosis of Complicated Grief (as determined by the psychiatrists who conduct our initial screening process)
  • Physical examination and laboratory findings without clinically significant medical problems.
  • Pregnant or lactating women or those able to become pregnant not using medically accepted forms of birth control cannot take part in the research study.

Panic Disorder

Neural Mechanisms of Fear Extinction Across Anxiety Disorders
Study Contact: Peter Rosencrans, (617) 643-3070, prosencrans@partners.org

Study Description: The purpose of this research study is to find out more about how the human brain forms and stores emotional memory. In particular, we would like to understand how human beings learn not to fear. We hope this study will help us understand why people with anxiety disorders cannot control unwanted fear. If eligible for this study, you will have two fMRI scans, during which you will perform some small tasks, such as finger tapping, while the MRI makes detailed pictures (images) of your brain.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized social anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You are right-handed.
  • You have normal (or corrected) vision.
  • You have been on stable psychotropic medications for at least 8 weeks and are not currently taking benzodiazepines.
  • You do not have any metal in your body.

People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.

People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past year are excluded. This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing a series of questionnaires, providing a urine sample and having two fMRI scanning sessions over the course of three study visits. Each study visit will take about two hours, and participants will be paid $200 for completing the entire study. If you leave the study early, we will pay you $30 per hour for your time spent up to that point. If you complete only the mental health evaluation, you will receive $60.

Attention Bias Modification of CBT Treatment of Panic Disorder
Study Contact:
Peter Rosencrans, (617) 643-3070, prosencrans@partners.org

Study Description:The purpose of this study is to examine the efficacy of augmenting CBT with Cognitive Bias Modification ­­-- a new and promising means of reducing cognitive biases thought to underlie the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders – in the treatment of Panic Disorder. All participants will receive 7 sessions of CBT. During their CBT visits, half of the participants will receive Cognitive Bias Modification; the other half will complete a placebo task.

Key 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 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.

Neural and Genetic Basis of Negative Valence Traits
Study Contact:
Ben Kovachy, (617) 724-0666, bkovachy@partners.org

Study Description: Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety? We are looking for volunteers for a research study to determine the effects of genes, behavior, and the brain on anxiety.

You may eligible if you:

  • Suffer from symptoms of anxiety
  • Are between 18 and 40 years old
  • Are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

This study involves:

  • 1 visit to the MGH Main Campus for a clinical interview, DNA sample collection (saliva), and urine sample collection (approximately 3 hours)
  • 1 visit to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging for an fMRI and self-report questionnaires (approximately 3.5 hours)
  • Optional supplemental survey that can be completed at home

You will receive compensation after completion of the study. Validation for parking may be provided.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GATE: Generalized – A Treatment Evaluation
Study Contact: Allison Campbell, (617) 726-3508, acampbell7@partners.org

Study 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.

You may be eligible if:

  • 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.

Qualified participants will be compensated $40 for each of the 4 clinician assessments across the duration of the study, for a total of $160 for participation.

Neural Mechanisms of Fear Extinction Across Anxiety Disorders
Study Contact: Peter Rosencrans, (617) 643-3070, prosencrans@partners.org

Study Description: The purpose of this research study is to find out more about how the human brain forms and stores emotional memory. In particular, we would like to understand how human beings learn not to fear. We hope this study will help us understand why people with anxiety disorders cannot control unwanted fear. If eligible for this study, you will have two fMRI scans, during which you will perform some small tasks, such as finger tapping, while the MRI makes detailed pictures (images) of your brain.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized social anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You are right-handed.
  • You have normal (or corrected) vision.
  • You have been on stable psychotropic medications for at least 8 weeks and are not currently taking benzodiazepines.
  • You do not have any metal in your body.

People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.

People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past year are excluded. This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing a series of questionnaires, providing a urine sample and having two fMRI scanning sessions over the course of three study visits. Each study visit will take about two hours, and participants will be paid $200 for completing the entire study. If you leave the study early, we will pay you $30 per hour for your time spent up to that point. If you complete only the mental health evaluation, you will receive $60.

The Utility of Threat Detection in Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Study Sponsor:
NIH
Study Contact: Sophie Palitz, (617) 726-1570, sapalitz@partners.org

Study Description: We are looking for adult participants suffering from generalized anxiety disorder for a research study at Massachusetts General Hospital. The purpose of this study is to determine whether several perceptual characteristics may be associated with anxiety. In particular, we are interested in learning about how individuals perceive threat.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You have normal or corrected-to-normal visual acuity.
  • You are not currently taking any psychiatric medications.
  • People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.
  • People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past six months are excluded.

This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing twelve computer tasks, and filling out a packet of questionnaires over the course of two study visits. Each study visit will take about four hours, and participants will be paid up to $150 after completing both visits.

Neural and Genetic Basis of Negative Valence Traits
Study Contact:
Ben Kovachy, (617) 724-0666, bkovachy@partners.org

Study Description: Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety? We are looking for volunteers for a research study to determine the effects of genes, behavior, and the brain on anxiety.

You may eligible if you:

  • Suffer from symptoms of anxiety
  • Are between 18 and 40 years old
  • Are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

This study involves:

  • 1 visit to the MGH Main Campus for a clinical interview, DNA sample collection (saliva), and urine sample collection (approximately 3 hours)
  • 1 visit to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging for an fMRI and self-report questionnaires (approximately 3.5 hours)
  • Optional supplemental survey that can be completed at home

You will receive compensation after completion of the study. Validation for parking may be provided.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Randomized Controlled Trial of Sertraline, Prolonged Exposure Therapy and their Combination in OEF/OIF/OND with PTSD
Study Sponsor:
Department of Defense
Study Contact: Andrew Rogers, (617) 726-1579, arogers7@partners.org
Enrollment Start Date: October 8th, 2011

Description: The purpose of this research study is to compare the effectiveness of the antidepressant medication sertraline and a type of talk therapy called prolonged exposure therapy for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for OEF/OIF/OND veterans and active duty service members. After medical and psychiatric evaluations are completed, eligible participants are randomly assigned (that is, by chance) to one of 3 study treatments:

  • Prolonged exposure therapy plus sertraline
  • Prolonged exposure therapy plus placebo (a sugar pill without active medication)
  • Sertraline alone

Key Eligibility Criteria:

  • Active duty service members or veterans who have combat-related PTSD or Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms
  • PTSD symptoms experienced for at least three months
  • Served in one of the following conflicts: Operating Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), or Operation New Dawn (OND)

Participants will be paid, upon study completion, $50 for each of the six assessments they complete, for a maximum total of $300.

Neural and Genetic Basis of Negative Valence Traits
Study Contact:
Ben Kovachy, (617) 724-0666, bkovachy@partners.org

Study Description: Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety? We are looking for volunteers for a research study to determine the effects of genes, behavior, and the brain on anxiety.

You may eligible if you:

  • Suffer from symptoms of anxiety
  • Are between 18 and 40 years old
  • Are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

This study involves:

  • 1 visit to the MGH Main Campus for a clinical interview, DNA sample collection (saliva), and urine sample collection (approximately 3 hours)
  • 1 visit to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging for an fMRI and self-report questionnaires (approximately 3.5 hours)
  • Optional supplemental survey that can be completed at home

You will receive compensation after completion of the study. Validation for parking may be provided.

Healthy Controls

The Utility of Threat Detection in Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Study Sponsor:
NIH
Study Contact: Sophie Palitz, (617) 726-1570, sapalitz@partners.org

Study Description: We are looking for adult participants suffering from generalized anxiety disorder for a research study at Massachusetts General Hospital. The purpose of this study is to determine whether several perceptual characteristics may be associated with anxiety. In particular, we are interested in learning about how individuals perceive threat.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You have normal or corrected-to-normal visual acuity.
  • You are not currently taking any psychiatric medications.
  • People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.
  • People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past six months are excluded.

 

This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing twelve computer tasks, and filling out a packet of questionnaires over the course of two study visits. Each study visit will take about four hours, and participants will be paid up to $150 after completing both visits.

Neural and Genetic Basis of Negative Valence Traits
Study Contact:
Ben Kovachy, (617) 724-0666, bkovachy@partners.org

Study Description: We are looking for healthy volunteers for a research study to determine the effects of genes, behavior, and the brain on anxiety.

You may be eligible if you are:

  • Between 18 and 40 years old
  • Have no history of mental illness or other serious medical illness
  • Are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

This study involves:

  • 1 visit to the MGH Main Campus for a clinical interview, saliva sample collection for DNA, and urine sample collection (approximately 3 hours)
  • 1 visit to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging for an fMRI and self-report questionnaires (approximately 3.5 hours)
  • Optional supplemental survey that can be completed at home

You will receive compensation after completion of the study. Parking may be validated.

Specific Phobias

Neural Mechanisms of Fear Extinction Across Anxiety Disorders
Study Contact: Peter Rosencrans, (617) 643-3070, prosencrans@partners.org

Study Description: The purpose of this research study is to find out more about how the human brain forms and stores emotional memory. In particular, we would like to understand how human beings learn not to fear. We hope this study will help us understand why people with anxiety disorders cannot control unwanted fear. If eligible for this study, you will have two fMRI scans, during which you will perform some small tasks, such as finger tapping, while the MRI makes detailed pictures (images) of your brain.

You may be eligible if:

  • You are currently suffering from generalized social anxiety disorder.
  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age.
  • You are right-handed.
  • You have normal (or corrected) vision.
  • You have been on stable psychotropic medications for at least 8 weeks and are not currently taking benzodiazepines.
  • You do not have any metal in your body.

People with severe unstable medical illness or a lifetime history of schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or mental disorder due to a medical condition or substance, or dementia are excluded.

People with alcohol or substance abuse or dependence within the past year are excluded. This study involves having a formal psychiatric interview, completing a series of questionnaires, providing a urine sample and having two fMRI scanning sessions over the course of three study visits. Each study visit will take about two hours, and participants will be paid $200 for completing the entire study. If you leave the study early, we will pay you $30 per hour for your time spent up to that point. If you complete only the mental health evaluation, you will receive $60.

Neural and Genetic Basis of Negative Valence Traits
Study Contact:
Ben Kovachy, (617) 724-0666, bkovachy@partners.org

Study Description: Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety? We are looking for volunteers for a research study to determine the effects of genes, behavior, and the brain on anxiety.

You may eligible if you:

  • Suffer from symptoms of anxiety
  • Are between 18 and 40 years old
  • Are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant

This study involves:

  • 1 visit to the MGH Main Campus for a clinical interview, DNA sample collection (saliva), and urine sample collection (approximately 3 hours)
  • 1 visit to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging for an fMRI and self-report questionnaires (approximately 3.5 hours)
  • Optional supplemental survey that can be completed at home

You will receive compensation after completion of the study. Validation for parking may be provided.