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Mood Disorders

Research in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Youth with Severe Mood Dsyregulation

Principal Investigator: Leslie Miller, M.D.

We are conducting a research study at Johns Hopkins that evaluates the effectiveness of a specific psychotherapy for adolescents, between the ages of 13 and 17, with severe mood dysregulation (SMD). Youth with SMD have chronic anger and irritability, disproportionate emotional reactions (rages/outbursts/fits), and other associated symptoms (problems with sleep or concentration, restlessness, talkativeness).  Because of the mood symptoms, these youth may have difficulties with relationships.  The goal of the study is to improve mood and relationships through interpersonal psychotherapy.  

VOLUNTEERS are being recruited for this study. Learn more

Offspring of Suicide Decedents Study

Principal Investigator: Holly C. Wilcox, Ph.D.

The primary aims of this study are to estimate the influence of parental death by suicide, as compared to other types of parental death, on mental disorders (including drug and alcohol dependence), violent criminal convictions, and suicidal behaviors among offspring; and to estimate the extent to which suicide by a parent, independent of the parent’s mental disorders and criminal convictions, increases the risk of serious mental disorders, violent criminal convictions, and suicidal behavior among offspring. Secondary aims of the study are: (1) to estimate whether parental suicide has a greater impact on psychiatric and criminal outcomes if it occurs during the subject's childhood or adolescence, as compared to adulthood and; (2) to estimate whether there is differential impact of maternal versus paternal suicide on offspring mental health and criminal outcomes, by sex of the offspring. Data is from over 30 years of Swedish population-based registries. Because we are studying two rare outcomes, suicide attempt and completed suicide, and the national registers are large and population-based, we are in a unique position to clarify a number of critical issues involving the familial-genetic transmission of suicidal behavior.

STATUS: This study has been completed.


Wilcox, H.C., Kuramoto, S.J, Lichtenstein, P., Långström, P., Brent, D.A., Runeson, B. Long-term Psychiatric and Violent Criminal Outcomes of Children Exposed to Parental Death: A Population-Based Registry Study in Sweden.  In preparation.

Kuramoto, S.J., Stuart, E.A., Runeson, B., Lichtenstein, P., Långström, N., Wilcox, H.C. Long-term Risk of Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior among Child and Adolescent Survivors of Maternal and Paternal Suicide. Kuramoto, S.J., Stuart, E.A., Runeson, B., Lichtenstein, P., Långström, N., Wilcox, H.C. In preparation.

Parental Suicidal Behavior and Offspring Environmental Risk:
A Population-Based Adoption Study

Principal Investigator:  Holly C. Wilcox, Ph.D.

This study was designed to compare the relative impact of genetic vulnerability versus aspects of rearing environment (e.g., adoptive parent psychiatric disorder, suicidal behaviors, and criminal convictions) using an adoption design by studying biological offspring of suicide decedents and suicide attempters who were adopted at birth and raised by nonrelatives. The proposed study is focused on identifying: 1) which aspects of the family environment enhance or reduce risk to offspring of birth parents who took their lives to suicide or attempted suicide and 2) whether this risk is conferred by genetic or environmental factors or an interaction between the two. The proposed study will allow us to begin to disentangle the effects of genetic risk from the impact of the environment on vulnerability and resilience among offspring at high genetic risk for suicidal behaviors. This study has a high likelihood to provide unique information to the field of suicide research as well as lay the foundation for more advanced research in this area.

STATUS: This study is in the data analysis stage.

Childhood Trauma and Suicidal Behaviors: the Role of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis in Mediating Risk

Principal Investigator: Holly C. Wilcox, Ph.D.

The goal of this project is to study the role of HPA axis dysfunction in mediating risk for suicidal behaviors among those exposed to childhood trauma. The potential pathway from childhood trauma to suicidal behaviors will be studied by assessing whether: 1) childhood trauma increases risk for HPA axis dysfunction and 2) whether HPA axis dysfunction increases risk for suicidal behaviors via increasing impulsive aggression. The aforementioned associations will be analyzed among offspring of adults enrolled in the Baltimore site of GenRED and GenRED II (Genetics of Recurrent Early-Onset Major Depressive Disorder). Elements of the proposed pathway to suicidal behavior will be elucidated for potential preventive and therapeutic targets.

STATUS: This study is in the recruitment stage.

Learn more about treatment of children and adolescents with mood disorders at Johns Hopkins


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