A Family of Doctors--by David J. Hellerstein, MD




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  271 West 70th St., #1F
  New York, NY 10023

                circa 1910, from A Family of Doctors, by David
                Hellerstein, MD

© 2012, David Hellerstein

Mood Disorders Research  Unit, New York
   Research and Treatment of Depression
David Hellerstein, M.D., Director

for more information, see www.DepressionNY.com


Dr. Hellerstein is Director of the Mood Disorders Research Unit at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. This research center enrolls subjects for studies on a variety of medications, both established and new treatments. It has participated in pioneering studies in areas including:

· the treatment of dysthymia (chronic depression),

· the treatment of bipolar depression and bipolar mania,

· the combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for treatment of depression

The Mood Disorders Research Unit (MDRU) has performed numerous important studies of Dysthymic Disorder and other types of depression. The MDRU is located at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital Center and affiliated with the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. In its previous location at Beth Israel Medical Center, the MDRU performed the world’s first double-blind-placebo controlled study of an SSRI medication in "pure dysthymia"—that is, Dysthymic Disorder without a superimposed episode of Major Depression.


(Recent publications of MDRU studies on depression)

1) Hellerstein DJ, Yanowitch P, Rosenthal J, Samstag LW, Maurer M, Kasch K, Burrows L, Poster M, Cantillon M, Winston A: A randomized double-blind study of fluoxetine versus placebo in treatment of dysthymia. American Journal of Psychiatry 1993;150:1169-1175

2) Hellerstein DJ, Little SAS: SSRI medications in the treatment of dysthymia and chronic depression. Journal of Serotonin Research 1994;1:181-187

3) Hellerstein DJ, Little SAS: Current perspectives on the diagnosis and treatment of double depression. CNS Drugs 1996; 5:344-357

4) Hellerstein DJ, Samstag LW, Cantillon M, Maurer M, Rosenthal J, Yanowitch P, Winston A: Long-term follow-up of medication-treated dysthymia. Progress in Neuropsychopharm and Biol Psychiatr 1996; 20:427-442

5) Kocsis JH, Zisook S, Davidson J, Shelton R, Yonkers K, Hellerstein DJ, Rosenbaum J, Halbreich U: Double-blind comparison of sertraline, imipramine, and placebo in the treatment of dysthymia: psychosocial outcomes. American Journal of Psychiatry 1997;154:390-395

6) Postolache TT, Rosenthal RN, Hellerstein DJ, Aromin R, Kelton GM, Muran JC, Londono JH: Early augmentation of sertraline with methylphenidate in major depression (letter). J of Clinical Psychiatry 1999;60:123-124

7) Hellerstein DJ, Batchelder S, Little SAS, Fedak M, Kreditor D, Rosenthal J: Venlafaxine in the treatment of dysthymic disorder: an open-label study. J of Clinical Psychiatry 1999;60:845-849

8) Hellerstein DJ, Kocsis JH, Chapman D, Stewart JW, Harrison W: Double-blind comparison of sertraline, imipramine, and placebo in the treatment of dysthymia: effects on personality. American Journal of Psychiatry 2000;157:1436-1444

9) Hellerstein DJ, Little SAS, Samstag LW, Batchelder S, Muran JC, Fedak M, Kreditor D, Rosenthal RN, Winston A: Combined medication and group psychotherapy in dysthymia: a randomized prospective outcome study. J Psychotherapy Practice and Research 2001;10:93-103

10) Shelton RC, Keller MB, Gelenberg A, Dunner DL, Hirschfeld R, Thase ME, Russell J, Lydiard RB, Crits-Cristoph P, Gallop R, Todd L, Hellerstein D, Goodnick P, Keitner G, Stahl SM, Halbreich U. Effectiveness of St. John’s Wort in major depression: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2001;285:1978-1986

11) Hellerstein DJ. Dysthymic disorder: integrating research findings into clinical treatment. J of Psychiatric Practice 2001;7:298-309

12) Hellerstein DJ, Batchelder S, Lee A, Borisovaskaya M. Rating dysthymia: an assessment of the construct and content validity of the Cornell Dysthymia Rating Scale. J of Affective Disorders 2002;71:85-96

13) Hellerstein DJ, Batchelder S, Miozzo R, Kreditor D, Hyler S, Gangure D, Clark J. Citalopram in the treatment of dysthymic disorder. International Clinical Psychopharmacology 2004, in press

How to enter a depression research study in the MDRU
  • To find out about our current studies, call 212-523-7666 and speak to one of our staff, or visit the following web-site: www.centerwatch.com/patient/studies/stu46459.html

  • If you are interested in enrolling in a study, call our office. After a brief telephone screening with one of our staff we may have you make an appointment for a complete screening to determine whether you are eligible for one of our studies.

The Mood Disorders Research Unit
is conveniently located in midtown Manhattan:

                   910 9th Ave. (9th Ave. at 58th Street)
               New York, NY 10019
               Tel. 212-523-7666


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

Clinicians can contact us by phone (212-523-7666) or email (sbatchelder@chpnet.org) regarding eligibility of their patients for our current studies, or patients can contact us directly.


Current studies include:

Double-blind placebo-controlled study of escitalopram (Lexapro) in the treatment of dysthymic disorder

  • We are testing whether escitalopram (Lexapro) is effective for the treatment of Dysthymic Disorder. Escitalopram is the L-enantiomer of citalopram, or Celexa, and is a currently marketed SSRI antidepressant medication. The study involves a 12-week double-blind phase during which half the subjects will take the new medication and half will take a placebo (an inactive look-alike pill). After the first 12 weeks, subjects will learn what they have been taking, and a second 12-week phase will begin during which they can be treated with an FDA-approved antidepressant medication. To qualify, subjects must be between 18 and 65 years old, and have been feeling down, sad, listless, unable to enjoy things, hopeless, or low in self esteem for at least several years. Subjects diagnosed as having Dysthymic Disorder may qualify to participate in our medication study. All study-related evaluations, laboratory tests, medication, and visits are free of charge. Exclusions: Patients with recent drug abuse or dependence, requiring other psychotropic medications during the study, a history of Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, or Schizoaffective Disorder, or who have significant and unstable medical problems (for example: uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes, HIV or AIDS, among others) are not eligible.
Aripiprazole (Abilify) as an adjunctive treatment for refractory unipolar depression
  • We are testing whether aripiprazole (Abilify) is effective for the treatment of depression that has not responded to antidepressant medication. Aripiprazole is an atypical antipsychotic agent and has been approved for use in schizophrenia, but it is not known if it works for depression. The study provides open-label treatment with aripiprazole for twelve weeks, which is added to current antidepressant medication. Individuals must have a diagnosis of major depression, unipolar, nonpsychotic type, and must be between 18 and 70 years of age. Their depression must have persisted despite having taken an antidepressant medication at an adequate dose for at least 6 weeks. Exclusions include psychotic disorders, recent drug or alcohol abuse, acute risk of suicide, and unstable medical conditions.

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David Hellerstein, MD, 271 West 70th St., #1F, New York, NY 10023

DJHell, © 2012, David Hellerstein