Depression Center

Approximately 21 million (or 1 in 7) adults in the United States suffer from some form of depression each year -- more than cancer and heart disease combined. Depression is a very common, though often under-diagnosed and under-treated, illness of the brain. It affects people of every age, race and socioeconomic status. Untreated or inadequately treated depression worsens the outcomes of other major medical disorders, hurts individuals and their families, and entails countless costs to our society.

A charter member of the National Network of Depression Centers since 2008, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital has launched a Depression Center which improves and streamlines care delivery, provides a platform for and coordinates cutting edge research, and expands on our existing strengths, particularly for depression in medical and neurologic illness and during the reproductive cycle. Working as a team, our psychiatrists, residents, psychologists, social workers and administrative staff based at Brigham Psychiatric Specialties provide a comprehensive assessment and care that is evidence-based and highly collaborative. The education and empowerment of patients, trainees and colleagues throughout the hospital system about mood disorders and their management is a high priority of the Center. We work closely with other experts within the department in the areas of addictions, oncology, somatoform disorders, cardiovascular health and others to ensure that depression and other disorders of mood are understood and addressed in the unique contexts in which they present. This work is facilitated by sophisticated research which helps us to hone best practices and remain at the forefront of progress in treating this widespread yet widely misunderstood illness.

Physically located near the main hospital building, the Center is designed to provide evaluations, education and care to patients at multiple points of entry, including inpatient services, outpatient specialty clinics and primary care sites. A new addition to the Brigham is South Huntington Advanced Primary Care Associates which is an innovative practice designed to provide the highest quality primary care that is preventative, proactive and aims for seamless access and coordination with other specialties. This practice is serving as a “test bed” for the integration of behavioral health care into the primary care setting so as to optimize the overall health outcomes for its patients. Similar models will be implemented at other primary care practices throughout the BWF system.

Depression Center Information

Our Approach
  • Emphasizes Patient Empowerment.  We believe that individuals with depression and other mood disorders play  a central role in their own recovery.
  • Elicits support from significant others, family and community members.  Depression has a wide-ranging impact beyond the individual. The education and involvement of family members and significant others is well established to improve outcomes for our patients.
  • Attends to Basics.  Diet, sleep hygiene, regular exercise and a sense of safety are all addressed and critical to recovery.
  • Is Recovery-Oriented.  We encourage our patients to aim to achieve their highest possible level of functioning and life satisfaction.
  • Uses evidence-based treatment guidelines.  We draw from guidelines that compile best-practices and up-to-date direction on treating mood disorders, including those of the American Psychiatric Association.
  • Is Carefully Measured.  We use validated clinical rating scales in addition to the reports of patients and significant others.
  • Is Team-Based.  In some cases, care is maximized when it involves a team of exceedingly skilled clinicians who can work with our patients and their significant others in a highly coordinated fashion. These teams include social workers, psychologists, and sometimes dieticians or other professionals. Team-based care may include a resident psychiatrist or other trainee and always involves a staff doctor who is actively engaged in your treatment.

Our clinicians specialize in numerous evidence-based interventions and techniques for addressing depression including: 

  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) (both individual and group-based)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) (both individual and group-based)
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
  • Problem-Solving Therapy (PST)
  • Behavioral Activation (BA)
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
  • Light Therapy
  • Chronotherapy

In conjunction with other interventions, our psychiatrists are highly skilled in using pharmacotherapies which are evidence-based for treating mood disorders. Medication is prescribed responsibly, with careful consideration of co-morbid illnesses, other medications and patient concerns.

We also have BWF clinicians experienced in the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as well as deep brain stimulation which can be effective in treatment resistant depression. Faulkner Hospital, a part of the BWH system of care, provides additional services including inpatient, partial hospital, and electroconvulsive therapy. To learn more about TMS for depression, click here.

We have specialists in both seasonal affective disorders and sleep disorders with whom we routinely consult as needed in individual cases.  When clinically appropriate, we guide individuals on the use of light therapy for treating depression as well as circadian rhythm disorders.  Chronotherapy can also prove useful in managing chronic depression. 

We are building an Educational and Community Resource Center to inform patients and their significant others about depression and related mood disorders and to make valuable community resources known. This includes a monthly calendar of community events and newsletter, regular educational events at the clinic, and access to a database of community resources that patients can draw from during their recovery. This database will also include vetted internet resources, books and other educational tools to supplement the education the clinicians provide each of their patients about their illness.

We encourage patients to utilize resources for self-care, including internet-based resources.  Our clinicians recommend evidence-based resources that can help patients work toward recovery between visits, including literature, worksheets, websites, and smartphone applications.

The Depression Center Team at Brigham Psychiatric Specialties

Staff Psychiatrists

Gaston Baslet, M.D.

Jane Erb, M.D., Director of Depression Center

Catherine Gonzalez, M.D.

John Grimaldi, M.D.

Michaela Millott, M.D.

Laura Safar, M.D.



Administrative Staff

Lisa Irwin

Maria Pires

Resident Psychiatrists

Psychology Trainees

Social Work Interns

Multidisciplinary Specialists

Beyond the Brigham Psychiatric Specialties, we have a broad ranging team, including:

Janis Anderson, PhD, Research, Light Therapy
Arash Ansari, M.D., Faulkner Hospital Inpatient Service
Arthur Barsky, M.D., Vice Chair, Psychiatry Research
William Beardslee, M.D., Children’s Hospital
Kathy Biro, Consultant
Ilana Braun, M.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Elizabeth Klerman, MD, PhD, Division of Sleep Medicine
Carolyn Hope Kreinsen, M.D., Newton Corner
Steven Lockley, PhD, Division of Sleep Medicine
Olivia Okereke, M.D., Division of Aging
David Silbersweig, M.D., Chairman of Psychiatry
Lara Sullivan, LICSW, South Huntington Advanced Primary Care Associates
Joji Suzuki, M.D., Addiction Psychiatry
Travis Tierney, M.D., PhD, Neurosurgery
David Vago, PhD, Functional Neuroimaging
David Wolfe, M.D., M.P.H., Consult-Liason Psychiatry


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