Depression, Adversity, & Stress Hormones Study

About the Study

Thank you for your interest in the DASH Study!

We are no longer enrolling participants for this study.


It is popularly thought that stress hormones, such as cortisol, are bad for you and cause depression. However, cortisol is a hormone that is necessary for life. Although chronic elevations of stress hormones can contribute to health problems, brief elevations of cortisol are often beneficial.

The main goal of our study is to identify factors that determine whether brief elevations of stress hormones are beneficial or detrimental for brain function, memory, and emotion. In particular, we hope to learn more about the role of stress hormones in biological and psychological aspects of depression in women.

We hypothesize that depending on one's past experiences, the effects of stress hormones may differ. Thus, a goal of our study is to determine how early life experiences are related to hormones' effects on brain function, memory, and emotion.

Our overall goal is to improve understanding of how stress hormones affect brain function among individuals with differing life experiences. It is our hope that study results will contribute to the development of new treatments for depression.

Am I Eligible?

You may be eligible to participate if you:

***While our study would like to include women of all shapes and sizes, the MRI simulator is much smaller than the actual MRI scanner. Therefore, we are limited by the MRI simulator safety requirements for weight and body mass index (BMI). We can only enroll women who are less than approximately 250 pounds and/or have a BMI of less than approximately 39.

If you have any questions regarding eligiblity criteria, please feel free to contact the Study Coordinator at or (608) 263-6114.

What Does Participation Involve?

MRI ScannerParticipation involves attending 7 study sessions at the UW Department of Psychiatry, located at 6001 Research Park Boulevard, Madison, WI.

The main study procedures include:

Click here for more information about the study visits.

Will I Be Paid for Participation?

You will receive $450 if you complete the entire study.

Interested in Participating?

Sign Up


Please check our FAQs or contact the Study Coordinator at or (608) 263-6114.


UW Department of Psychiatry

Mood & Memory Laboratory
UW Department of Psychiatry
6001 Research Park Blvd.
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 263-6114