Sarah Nagle-Yang, MD | University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Aysegul Ozerdem, MD, PhD | Mayo Clinic


Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from mood disorders, with nearly one-quarter of all women experiencing depression at some point in their lives. The Women & Mood Disorders Task Group was formed to employ evidence-based research methods to better understand and address the unique biological and psychological issues impacting women at key life stages including pregnancy, postpartum and menopause, and to determine best practices for treatment.

Established in 2009, the Task Group is a “network within a network,” comprised of 40 members from 21 academic institutions. The Task Group seeks to capitalize on the strengths of a collaborative network by bringing together researchers, clinicians, and staff from NNDC Centers of Excellence to impact the prevalence and burden of depression in women across the lifespan, and to better understand the different ways men and women experience mood disorders.

The main priority of the Women & Mood Disorders Task Group is to promote collaborative research, education and clinical care focused on women with mood disorders. The Task Group takes a broad, multi-faceted approach, and includes faculty who specialize in women-focused research.

The Women & Mood Disorders Pooled Dataset Project is a cornerstone of the Task Group’s efforts to improve clinical care through the power of research. Launched in 2009, the Pooled Dataset Project is a subgroup within the Task Group, encompassing eight academic institutions and 16 individual databases, totaling over 30,000 research participants.  Its goal is to determine disparities in prevalence, course, and treatment use. The project was formed as an “early win” priority, generating interest and enthusiasm from members.

  • The Women & Mood Disorders Task Group is planning to examine how gender and other factors may contribute to differences in depression and anxiety measured by the NNDC Mood Outcomes Program.
  • Furthermore, several Work Groups have been established to explore important research topics related to depression in women:
    • Research Area #1: Examining underlying biological mechanisms of different phenotypes or profiles of women’s mood/depressive symptoms (potential intervention component will also be discussed). Facilitator: Liisa Hantsoo, PhD.
    • Research Area #2: Understanding how race, ethnicity and/or financial insecurity may moderate women’s mood/depressive symptoms or contribute to disparities in behavioral health care. Facilitator: Robert Ammerman, PhD, ABPP.
    • Research Area #3: Assessing the impact of birth trauma on women and children, especially the intersection of PTSD and comorbid depression. Facilitators: Sharon Dekel, PhD & Maria Muzik, MD, MSc.
  • In 2017, the Women & Mood Disorders Task Group was awarded an NNDC Momentum Grant to refine a tool they developed for standard assessment of mood and related clinical factors and to expand the use of that tool to additional sites and settings. They sought to incorporate assessments of substance abuse (opioids) into the tool, to identify potential targets of treatment, and to detect factors related to treatment response. Their efforts in continued with a 2018 NNDC Momentum Grant award that was intended to fund staff for centralized coordination of data collection and data entry, as well as to acquire more substantive data on opioid use as it relates to depression, suicidal ideation, and mental health risk in pregnancy and the postpartum. These and previous efforts of the Task Group led to a number of publications:
    • Carlini, S. V., Weiss, S. J., Mordukhaev, L., Jacob, S., Flynn, H. A., & Deligiannidis, K. M. (2022). Clinical correlates of women endorsing premenstrual suicidal ideation: a cross-sectional study. BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 16(1), 23. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13030-022-00252-3
    • Goodman, S. H., Muzik, M., Simeonova, D. I., Kidd, S. A., Owen, M. T., Cooper, B., Kim, C. Y., Rosenblum, K. L., & Weiss, S. J. (2022). Maternal Interaction With Infants Among Women at Elevated Risk for Postpartum Depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 737513. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.737513
    • Weiss, S. J., Flynn, H., Christian, L., Hantsoo, L., di Scalea, T. L., Kornfield, S. L., Muzik, M., Simeonova, D. I., Cooper, B. A., Strahm, A., & Deligiannidis, K. M. (2021). Symptom profiles of women at risk of mood disorders: A latent class analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 295, 139–147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.08.013
    • Weiss, S. J., Simeonova, D. I., Koleva, H., Muzik, M., Clark, K. D., Ozerdem, A., Cooper, B., & Ammerman, R. T. (2022). Potential paths to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among high-risk women. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 155, 493–500. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.09.033
    • Maki, P. M., Kornstein, S. G., Joffe, H., Bromberger, J. T., Freeman, E. W., Athappilly, G., Bobo, W. V., Rubin, L. H., Koleva, H. K., Cohen, L. S., & Soares, C. N. (2019). Guidelines for the Evaluation and Treatment of Perimenopausal Depression: Summary and Recommendations. Journal of Women’s Health, 28(2), 117–134. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2018.27099.mensocrec
    • Flynn, H. A., Spino, C., Guille, C., Deligiannidis, K. M., Maki, P., Jahnke, J., Rosenblum, K. L., Epperson, C. N., & Weiss, S. J. (2018). A Collaborative, Network-Based Approach to Advance Women’s Depression Research in the United States: Preliminary Findings. Journal of Women’s Health, 27(1), 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2016.6261
    • Weiss, S. J., Muzik, M., Delgiannidis, K. M., Ammerman, R. T., Guille, C., and Flynn, H.A. (2016). Gender Differences in Suicidal Risk Factors among Individuals with Mood Disorders. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-1044.1000218
    • Weiss, S. J., Simeonova, D. I., Kimmel, M. C., Battle, C. L., Maki, P. M., & Flynn, H. A. (2016). Anxiety and physical health problems increase the odds of women having more severe symptoms of depression. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 19(3), 491–499. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-015-0575-3

For more information about this task group, please contact Program Manager Mary Laffey ([email protected]).

Each year, NNDC Task Groups are invited to apply for NNDC Momentum Grants to fund pilot projects that can be used to generate proposals for larger federal or foundation grants. For details, visit the NNDC Momentum Grants page.

page updated: 02/2023