Sex Hormones and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) in Stress Induced Anhedonia in Depression

  • End date
    Apr 30, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Mclean Hospital
Updated on 29 January 2021
psychiatric disorder
depressive symptoms
psychotropic drugs
major depressive disorder


Using an innovative multi-modal imaging approach, this study investigates the role of the neurochemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain activity, as well as hormones in understanding sex differences in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Further, the investigators will link these markers to symptoms of depression.


The goals of this research are to investigate: (1) functional and neurochemical features associated with depression irrespective of clinical state; (2) moderating effects of hormones on stress circuitry in MDD; and (3) sex differences in symptoms. To this end, the study is enrolling adults with current depression and remitted depression, along with a control group of psychiatrically health adults. Participants will have an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam involving multiple imaging techniques (functional, structural, spectroscopic) while performing computer-based tests. Additional questionnaires and tests will be done outside the scanner to assess current symptoms and hormone levels. The integration of laboratory-based measures of reward and stress sensitivity, with state-of-the-art imaging techniques and hormonal assessments promises to provide novel insights in the sex-dependent manifestation and pathophysiology of MDD.

Condition Major depression, Endogenous depression, major depressive disorder, major depressive disorders
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03031665
SponsorMclean Hospital
Last Modified on29 January 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Meets inclusion criteria for all subjects, plus
Meets diagnostic criteria for a current episode of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
Inclusion Criteria for "Remitted MDD" group
Meets inclusion criteria for all subjects, plus
History of MDD as defined by DSM-5, but in remission for the past two months
Absence of anxiety disorder for the past two months

Exclusion Criteria

History of psychiatric illnesses, other than depression or anxiety disorders among the Current MDD and Remitted MDD groups
History of psychotic episodes, suicidal ideation, or of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment
Use of hormone replacement therapy, or of anabolic steroids
Use of hormonal contraceptives is permitted for female subjects only if the subject has regular menses
Failure to meet any MRI safety requirements
Serious or unstable medical illness, or history of neurological disease or damage
History of use of cocaine, stimulants, or dopaminergic drugs
History of substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder (as these terms are defined by DSM-5); except depressed subjects may have a history of 'Mild' substance/alcohol use disorder only if it ended as least 12 months ago
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