What to Do About Depression: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation?

by | Mar 18, 2012

How to treat severe depression

“Most of the people who went into this trial had tried at least two other antidepressant treatments and got nowhere…we weren’t dealing with people who were easy to treat.”

Those are the words of Colleen Loo, MD, professor at the University of New South Wales School of Psychiatry. She led a team of researchers from her school and the Black Dog Institute. They came up with some fascinating results.

The study was the largest and most definitive on Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). And they’re telling us it’s a safe and effective treatment for depression. Fact is, post-treatment, some 50% of their participants experienced substantial relief.

What is transcranial direct current stimulation?

If you’re living with depression, I think you’ll find tDCS an interesting and hopeful proposition. Simply, it’s a non-invasive form of brain stimulation that passes a weak electrical current into the front of the brain through electrodes on the scalp. The recipient remains awake and alert during the procedure.

The action of tDCS works toward facilitating changes in the functioning of neurons in the brain’s cortex. Cool thing is, the changes continue after an application session – and that’s an important component of the treatment.

Now, we’ve discussed neuroplasticity here on chipur numerous times. It’s a miraculous neural compensatory process based in this observation: “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Neuroplasticity may well be at the very foundation of tDCS’s efficacy.

The workings and results of the study

Okay, let’s get into some of the guts of the study – and results. The research team recruited 64 participants who’d not realized positive results from two previous treatments for depression. They were administered either a real or “placebo” tDCS for 20 minutes a day – for up to six weeks.

As I mentioned earlier, some 50% of the participants enjoyed big-time relief. What’s more, the benefits after six weeks were better than what was experienced at the three week mark. And that suggests tDCS treatment applied over an extended period of time brings primo results.

And how ’bout this? The study participants who found relief were offered weekly “booster treatments.” Some 85% showed no relapse after three months.

Here are some noteworthy comments from Dr. Loo…

Most of the people who went into this trial had tried at least two other antidepressant treatments and got nowhere. So the results are far more significant than they might initially appear – we weren’t dealing with people who were easy to treat.

These results demonstrate that multiple tDCS sessions are safe and not associated with any adverse cognitive outcomes over time.

She also states the addition of tDCS to a treatment regimen is simple and cost effective to deliver, requiring a short visit to a clinic.

By the way, the study turned up additional – unexpected – physical and mental perks. Included are improved attention and information processing, and chronic pain relief. In prepping for the article, I’d also read tDCS may work well for presentations of anxiety.

Well, more to come from Dr. Loo and team, as they’re looking into yet another tDCS trial featuring bipolar disorder. And they’re doing that because? Very early results from assorted clinical work suggests it’ll be a fit.

It’s a wrap

If you’re living with depression and wondering just what to do about it, I want Chipur to be a reliable resource for you.

Transcranial direct current stimulation sure seems like a worthy alternative for someone who’s struggling. If you weren’t aware of it, now you are – mission accomplished.

Thanks to Medical News Today for the info.

Would you like to read more Chipur emotional and mental health info and inspiration articles? Peruse the titles.


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