McLean Hospital Title:
- Director, Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Laboratory
Harvard Medical School Title:
- Lecturer on Psychiatry
Randy P. Auerbach, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and at McLean Hospital serves as director of Clinical Research for the Simches Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as well as director of the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Laboratory. Dr. Auerbach received his BA from Cornell University, his PhD in Clinical Psychology from McGill University, and completed his clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Auerbach’s research is aimed at identifying psychosocial, behavioral, and neurobiological factors that render certain children, adolescents, and young adults vulnerable to experience depressive symptoms and episodes. The research utilizes a multimodal approach for assessment (e.g., laboratory-based experiments, EEG, fMRI) to determine why depressive symptoms unfold, how self-injurious and suicidal behaviors develop, and what changes in the brain during treatment.
Adolescence is the peak period of onset for major depressive disorder, and it has a significant impact on youth development. Depression is associated with short- and long-term negative consequences, and thus, there is a critical need to improve early identification, prevention, and treatment.
The ultimate goal of Dr. Auerbach’s Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Laboratory, established in 2010 and part of McLean’s Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research (CDASR), is to develop more effective prevention and intervention programs for youth in need. The lab works towards identifying psychosocial, behavioral, genetic, and neurobiological risk factors that render certain children, adolescents, and young adults vulnerable to experience depressive symptoms and episodes. They also look to understand mechanisms that change in the brain in the context of psychotherapy (e.g., cognitive behavior therapy) and delineate mechanisms that increase the likelihood of self-injury and suicide.
The research is multidisciplinary and utilizes a multimodal approach for assessment (e.g., laboratory-based experiments, EEG, fMRI) to determine why depressive symptoms unfold, how self-injurious and suicidal behaviors develop, and what changes in the brain during treatment. As a whole, the research aims to better understand the underlying mechanisms that may improve early identification of and treatment for adolescent depression.
Adolescence is the peak period for the onset of depression, and while cognitive behavior therapy is believed to be the gold standard of treatment, the mechanisms (i.e., psychosocial, behavioral, neural) that mediate therapeutic response remain unclear. The goal of Dr. Auerbach’s project, “Neural Components Underlying the Treatment of Adolescent Major Depression,” is to identify mechanisms that may mediate symptom reduction in the context of cognitive behavior therapy as well as to determine whether certain baseline indices can predict treatment response.
There is a critical need to investigate brain-behavior processes; however, few studies have examined the behavioral, genetic, and neurobiological (i.e., fMRI, MRS data) mechanisms associated with increased vulnerability to adolescent major depressive disorder (MDD). To address this important gap, the proposed longitudinal study, “Genetic and Neural Predictors of Adolescent Depression,” will examine at-risk healthy adolescents ages 12-14 transitioning from early- to middle-adolescence to delineate biomarkers of MDD.
There are individual differences with respect to how youth may respond to depressive symptoms, and it is essential to identify mechanisms that confer risk for adolescent self-injury and suicide. Dr. Auerbach’s study of adolescent non-suicidal self-injury and suicide aims to identify putative mechanisms that may predict self-injurious and suicidal behaviors in adolescents.
- Genesis Vergara, Clinical Research Assistant
- Greg Hajcak, PhD, Stony Brook University
- Ronald C. Kessler, PhD, Harvard Medical School
- Matthew K. Nock, PhD, Harvard University
- Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD, McLean Hospital
- Eric Nelson, PhD, National Institute of Mental Health
- Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, McLean Hospital
- Scott L. Rauch, MD, McLean Hospital
- Christian A. Webb, PhD, McLean Hospital
Auerbach RP, Stanton CH, Proudfit GH, Pizzagalli DA. Self-referential processing in depressed adolescents: a high-density event-related potential study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 2015;124(2), 233-245.
Auerbach RP, Alonso J, Axinn WG, Cuijpers P, Ebert D, Green JG, Hwang I, Kessler RC, Liu H, Mortier P, Nock MK, Pinder-Amaker S, Sampson N, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Al-Hamzawi A, Andreade LH, Benjet C, Caldas-de-Almeida JM, Demyttenaere K, Florescu S, de Girolamo G, Gureje O, Haro JM, Karam E, Kiejna A, Kovess-Masfety V, Lee S, McGrath J, O’Neill S, Pennell BE, Scot K, ten Have M, Torres Y, Zarkov Z, Bruffaerts R. Mental disorders among college students in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Psychological Medicine 2016;46(14):2955-2970.
Auerbach RP, Pisoni A, Bondy E, Kumar P, Stewart JG, Yendiki A, Pizzagalli DA. Neuroanatomical prediction of anhedonia in adolescents. Neuropsychopharmacology 2017.
Auerbach RP, Webb CA, Stewart JG. Cognitive behavior therapy for depressed adolescents: a practical guide to management and treatment. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.
Education & Training:
- 2000 BA, Cornell University
- 2010 PhD, McGill University
- 2010 Pre-Doctoral Internship, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
- 2013 Clinical Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP)
Belmont campus - de Marneffe Building, Room 240