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Research and Links

David J. Hellerstein, MD

Psychiatrist, Writer and Researcher

“We are studying a newly approved antidepressant medicine, desvenlafaxine, for the treatment of people with chronic depression. Desvenlafaxine (trade name Pristiq) has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depression. We are testing whether this medicine is also effective for adults with a type of chronic depression that is less severe than major depression. This type of depression is also known as dysthymic disorder or dysthymia. Chronic depression, lasting two or more years, often causes significant suffering and impairment.” Multimodal MRI scans were performed before and after medication and placebo treatment, to investigate changes in brain anatomy, connectivity, and task-based activation. 


  • Hellerstein David J: Heal Your Brain: How the New Neuropsychiatry Can Help You Go From Better to Well,  Johns Hopkins University Press,  Baltimore,  MD,  2011

  • Hellerstein David: A Family of Doctors, Hill & Wang (hardcover), Ivy Books (paperback),  New York,  NY,  1994/1995

  • Hellerstein DJ, Skodol AE, Petkova E, Xie H, Markowitz JC, Yen S, Gunderson J, Grilo C, Daversa MT, McGlashan TH. : The impact of comorbid dysthymic disorder on outcome in personality disorders.  Comprehensive Psychiatry 2010;51: 449-457

  • Hellerstein DJ, Agosti V, Bosi M, Black SR: Impairment in psychosocial functioning associated with dysthymic disorder in the NESARC study.  Journal of Affective Disorders  2010;doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.04.013

  • Bruder GE, Stewart JW, Hellerstein DJ, Alschuler D, McGrath PJ. Abnormal functional brain asymmetry in depression: evidence of biologic commonality between major depression and dysthymia. Psychiatry Research 2012;196:250-254

  • Posner J, Hellerstein DJ, Gat I, Mechling A, Klahr K, Wang Z, McGrath PJ, Stewart JW, Peterson BS. Antidepressants normalize the default mode network in patients with dysthymia. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013 Apr;70(4):373-82

  • Hellerstein DJ, Erickson G, Stewart JW, McGrath PJ, Hunnicutt-Ferguson K, Reynolds SK, O'Shea D, Chen Y, Withers A, Wang Y. Behavioral activation therapy for return to work in medication-responsive chronic depression with persistent psychosocial dysfunction. Comprehensive Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;57:140-7.

Dr. Hellerstein’s research studies in depression, which he has conducted for over 25 years, include psychopharmacology (medication), psychotherapy and MRI imaging studies. They are conducted at the Depression Evaluation Service of Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. His current studies are as listed below.

Click HERE to see Dr. Hellerstein’s academic publications on PubMed.  

Depression Evaluation Service

Desvenlafaxine vs. placebo for treatment of chronic depression –