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Researchers to Study Possible New Treatments for Perinatal Depression

January 21, 2021
Kristina Deligiannidis, MD
Kristina Deligiannidis, MD (CREDIT: Northwell Health)

Research studies that will investigate perinatal depression in women and possible new treatments for it will be led by Kristina Deligiannidis, MD, associate professor at the Feinstein Institutes' Institute of Behavioral Science, Glen Oaks, New York. One study will examine the relationships between sex steroids, brain chemistry, and brain circuitry in women with and without perinatal depression.

Additionally, Feinstein, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will together be a part of a multisite randomized clinical trial to examine personalized integrated chronotherapy (PIC) as a treatment for depression, and/or anxiety during pregnancy. PIC uses bright light therapy to modify sleep schedules.

“Expecting mothers and new moms are susceptible to depression and it is crucial to understand the condition’s origins and how it manifests to develop new treatments,” said Dr. Deligiannidis who is also the director of Women’s Behavioral Health at Zucker Hillside Hospital, Queens, NY.

Treating Mood Disorders in Perinatal Women

The Feinstein Institutes were awarded $4 million in multi-year grants. Of that total, $2.7 million was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the pathophysiology of perinatal depression. The Rhode Island Hospital, funded by the NIH, awarded Feinstein $1.4 million as a 4-year award to be a part of the multisite trial, the institution announced.

Researchers at all 4 academic sites will run identical trials that will examine whether PIC intervention can improve treatment outcomes for patients seeking outpatient care for depression or anxiety during pregnancy. The trial will aim to recruit women in their third trimester of pregnancy and include racially and ethnically diverse participants.

While treatment options are available for perinatal depression, these studies will help discern if PIC is an effective treatment for women suffering from one particular subtype of the condition, characterized by insomnia, as well as the biological foundations of different subtypes, according to a statement from Feinstein.

—Meagan Thistle


Feinstein Institutes awarded more than $4M to research perinatal depression [press release]. Manhasset, NY: The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health; January 15, 2021.

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