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Peter J. Schmidt, M.D., Investigator

Dr. Schmidt graduated with honors from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with MB and BCh degrees. His medical internship and psychiatry residency were completed at the University of Toronto, Canada. Upon completing his psychiatric residency, Dr. Schmidt joined the NIMH as an Ontario Mental Health Foundation Fellow. His laboratory is interested in the neurobehavioral effects of gonadal steroids in humans, including the roles of gonadal steroids in mood state regulation in women with menstrual-related mood disorders, perimenopause-related depression and puerperal depression.
Photo of Peter J.  Schmidt, M.D., Investigator


Research Interests:
Alterations of gonadal steroids and adrenal androgens have been implicated in the observed gender differences in the prevalence, course, and treatment response characteristics of several psychiatric illnesses. Additionally, these steroids have been reported to influence the response to stress (both short and long-term) as well as several cognitive processes (e.g., working memory) relevant to mood regulation. An expanding proportion of the population is entering midlife, and the availability of a variety of hormone (or hormone-like) therapies for both men and women supports the need for systematic evaluations of the potential psychotropic effects of these compounds. Our investigations have been primarily focused on the characterization of affective disorders occurring during the perimenopause, the identification of the role of gonadal steroids in these mood disorders, and the investigation of the neuroregulatory consequences of the presence and absence of gonadal steroids. These studies will provide insight into the mechanisms underlying affective disorders in general and, additionally, may help define the way in which gonadal steroids modify the course or expression of affective disorders. Finally, the information obtained by these protocols will help identify the predictive utility of endocrine measures in perimenopause-related depression and help define the role of hormonal therapies in mood disorders, in particular those disorders occurring at midlife in men and women.

The studies conducted within this Unit examine the effects on mood and behavior of hypogonadism (with and without gonadal steroid replacement) related to both the natural process of reproductive senescence and the experimental-induction of the hypogonadal state. The objectives of these studies are threefold: First, to identify the sources of vulnerability to the development of mood disorders during periods of altered reproductive function. Second, to determine the mechanisms underlying the mood regulating effects of gonadal steroids. Finally, to evaluate the potential role of hormonal therapies in reproductive endocrine-related mood disorders.

Clinical Protocols:
  • 5HT1A and SERT imaging during pharmacologically induced hypogonadotropic hypogonadism with and without estrogen and progesterone replacement ( 05-M-0059 )
  • A screening protocol to evaluate women with perimenopause-related mood and behavioral disorders ( 88-M-0131 )
  • The treatment of menstrually-related mood disorders with continuous gonadal steroid replacement ( 00-M-0103 )
  • The treatment of menstrually-related mood disorders with the gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, depot leuprolide acetate (Lupron) ( 90-M-0088 )
  • The central nervous system effects of pharmacologically induced hypogonadotropic hypgonadism with and without estrogen and progsterone replacement ( 92-M-0174 )
  • A screening protocol to evaluate women with postpartum-related mood and behavioral disorders ( 03-M-0138 )
  • The treatment of menstrually-related mood disorders with extended versus interrupted oral contraceptives ( 04-M-0221 )
  • The effects of acute withdrawal of estradiol on mood symptoms in women with perimenopausal depression ( 03-M-0175 )
  • The efficacy of phytoestrogens and selective estrogen receptor modulators in perimenopause-related depression ( 02-M-0120 )
  • The efficacy of 17 beta-estradiol in postpartum-related depressive illness ( 03-M-0161 )

Contact Information:

Dr. Peter J. Schmidt
Reproductive Endocrine Studies Unit
Behavorial Endocrinology Branch, NIMH
Building 10-CRC, Room 65340
10 Center Drive, MSC 1276
Bethesda, MD 20892-1276

Telephone: (301) 496-6120 (office), (301) 402-2588 (fax)


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