Towards Neurobiology-based Diagnosis and Treatment of Affective Disorders


The project is a multi-center, prospective cohort study. The study's total targeted enrollment is 400 first-episode patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 400 healthy controls.

Full Title of Study: “Clinical Psychopharmacology Division”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Observational
  • Study Design
    • Time Perspective: Prospective
  • Study Primary Completion Date: December 2021

Detailed Description

Four hundred patients with a primary diagnosis of depression and HAMD-17 scores ≥14 at baseline visit are to be assigned to one of the second-generation antidepressant drugs, including escitalopram, duloxetine, mirtazapine, paroxetine, sertraline, etc based on investigators' clinical practice. Initial treatment consists of a 8-week course with one of these monotherapies. Patients who meet criteria for full remission are followed for a 22-month follow-up phase to monitor for depression recurrence. Patients who do not remit are offered another 8 weeks of acute treatment, including combination therapy or switching to other antidepressant based on investigators' clinical practice. The clinical assessment (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale(HAMD)/ Clinical general impression (CGI) /the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) /subtypes of depression, Dimensional Anhedonia Rating Scale (DARS) , etc), early life stress, neuropsychological test, and biological examination (MRI, genetics, neurochemistry, and immunology) were conducted to identify the biomarkers associated with diagnosis, treatment efficacy prediction of depression. Among the 400 patients, about 100 patients receive MRI scans at baseline and after treatment.


  • Drug: Escitalopram Pill
    • escitalopram 10~20mg/day
  • Drug: Duloxetine
    • duloxetine 30~120mg/day
  • Drug: Mirtazapine Pill
    • Mirtazapine 15~45mg/day
  • Drug: Other Antidepressants

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Escitalopram-for MDD
    • Eligible patients were assigned to escitalopram treatment based on investigators’ clinical practice.
  • Duloxetine-for MDD
    • Eligible patients were assigned to duloxetine treatment based on investigators’ clinical practice.
  • Mirtazepine-for MDD
    • Eligible patients were assigned to mirtazepine treatment based on investigators’ clinical practice.
  • other antidepressant-for MDD
    • Eligible patients were assigned to other antidepressant treatment (including sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, venlafaxine, etc) based on investigators’ clinical practice.

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • reduction in HAMD total scores
    • Time Frame: 8 weeks
    • reduction more than 50% was regarded as response
  • remision
    • Time Frame: 8 weeks
    • HAMD total score less than 7

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

1. Patients with depression

  • The inclusion criteria for depressed patients were: male or female outpatients aged between 18 and 55 years old – Currently in acute depressive episode – Total HAMD-17 score≥14 at baseline visit. – The diagnosis of depression was confirmed by a trained psychiatrists using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). – The patients participating in imaging scans should additionally satisfy: not taking psychiatric drugs within last two weeks (except for benzodiazepine) or fluoxetine last one month – Not receiving ECT within last 6 months. Exclusion Criteria:

  • Unable to complete the questionnaire and psychological assessment independently – Significant cognitive impairments determined by system mental examination and inability to sign an informed consent form – Past or presently suffering from other psychiatric disorders, alcohol and drug dependence – Suffering from major physical diseases, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, kidney disease, cancer and so on; personality disorder – Intellectual disabilities – Suicidal behavior – Being participating in other studies.

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: 55 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Peking University
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Si Tianmei, Clinical Psychopharmacology Division – Peking University
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Tianmei Si, PhD, Principal Investigator, Sixth hospital of beijing university
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Yunai Su, PhD, 010-62723761,

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