Zapping the brain really does seem to improve depression | New Scientist

Analysing these high-standard studies revealed that tDCS seems to reliably improve the symptoms of depression, addiction and craving, and fibromyalgia. It also uncovered that the technique does not work for tinnitus, and that the evidence for using tDCS for stroke rehabilitation was not as strong as many had thought.

Full article: Zapping the brain really does seem to improve depression

Full Paper: Evidence-based guidelines on the therapeutic use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

 

I intentionally electrocuted my brain. Here’s why… | BBC

BBC Three's Nick Arnold takes the Focus Sports for a test drive.

BBC Three’s Nick Arnold takes the Focus Sports for a test drive.

I contacted a few people using tDCS to cure their depression via social media. Mario, 32 from Mexico, told me it was working for him.

“I think it is great. You can see a lot of improvements in your mood. The more you use it the better you feel.”

Another user, eagee, wrote, “I suffered from depression for almost 25 years, and after I started applying tDCS I’ve had two years so far without it.”

If tDCS really can be so life changing for depression patients, why isn’t it more widely available?

According to Dr. Williams, “the equipment is so simple that it cannot be patented in the US. And if no one can own the rights to tDCS, no one can make a profit on it.”

That’s why, according to its supporters, tCDS is being ignored by major drug companies.

Brendan Morgan Omni Stimulator (For Depression) Review

Stumbled upon this device today, the Omni Stimulator, which seems to be mostly sold in Australia. That lead to this video where Brendan Morgan makes the case for the use of tDCS in the treatment of his depression. Again, I am not advocating the use of tDCS for the self-treatment of your depression. I’m simply collecting evidence, clinical and anecdotal, and making it available. That said, I know that if I myself were experiencing depression, I would be experimenting with tDCS. Especially in light of the fact that the efficacy of treatment of depression with SRRIs remains controversial, tDCS would definitely seem to be worth a try. [Highly recommended, Science VS podcast episode #11 Antidepressants.]

Cloud-Based tDCS Device For Remotely-Supervised Trials

Our ~6 min video about the project! Featuring & ‘s Prof Colleen Loo.

We developed a cellular brain stimulation device as part of our ELEC5622 Sensors, Signals & Health assessment at the University of Sydney. The technique, known as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), uses weak electrical currents to modulate ongoing brain activity, and is a promising treatment for a range of neurological and psychiatric diseases. As the feasibility of administering tDCS at home has recently become an emerging area of research, there is a substantial need for a tDCS device which send data to the clinician in real time.

[Update 11/7/16 The video mentioned has been deleted.]

TMS & Depression In The News

Now that TMS has been approved for the treatment of depression we’re seeing a lot more stories in the news. Naturally this is in part due to the marketing efforts of the four device makers currently FDA approved: Brainsway, Magstim, Magvita, and Neurostar. No doubt patients and doctors are eager to try an alternative where antidepressants didn’t work!

I will update this post as I find new and interesting news stories related to TMS and depression.

tdcsmagnetstms

Magnets cured my depression
New symptom-free treatment helps depression, reduce military suicides

University of British Columbia Explores tDCS With Yoga in Treatment of Depression

Fidel Vila-Rodriguez, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, is exploring the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation combined with yoga, to see if it can be used to treat depression.

From UBC: Harnessing electricity to treat depression – in a kinder, gentler way

Why DIY?

Market forces, the for-profit bias that imbues every aspect of health care in America, skew R&D towards solutions and products that are highly profitable. That’s one of the reasons I was so curious about tDCS. You can do it at home. It doesn’t cost a fortune. My initial curiosity was inspired by research papers that seemed to indicate the potential for cognitive enhancement, primarily memory and learning. Many papers later, I’m not so sure, but where it comes to tDCS and depression I’m much more confident. There does seem to be an overwhelming amount of both research and anecdotal evidence to support the use of tDCS in depression. If that were better known, perhaps someone like the woman featured in this NBC news clip would have had somewhere to turn when she was denied coverage for continuing TMS treatment for depression.

Injured Workers Face Stacked Deck During Workers’ Comp Appeals Process, Critics Say

How TMS and Genome Testing Pulled Me Out of a Severe Depression | Toby Wachter

No mention of tDCS in his journey to find relief from severe depression, but some new to me and interesting information about treating his depression with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Especially interesting is that a genome test recommended by his psychiatrist led to the awareness that many of the drugs typically used to treat depression would most likely be overwhelming to his system. Also that his insurer, Anthem Blue Cross (through the ACA, Obamacare) covered his TMS treatment. Links below to full article.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is a depression treatment that was approved by the FDA in 2008. It involves placing a magnetic coil on the patient’s head, and stimulating neurons in a specific part of the brain known to be underactive in depression (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Best of all, it has very few side effects: only some uncomfortable tapping on the head where treatment is applied. There are none of the standard side effects we’ve come to associate with medications.

How Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Genome Testing Pulled Me Out of a Severe Depression

Self-Administered Domiciliary tDCS Treatment for Tinnitus | Sooma Medical

Unfortunately the study found little to no benefit (no more than sham) using tDCS with two different montages to treat tinnitus. What is very interesting however, is that the study allowed participants to administer tDCS at home.

A Sooma tDCSTM device (Sooma Oy, Helsinki, Finland) was used in the study. The device is designed and approved for patient use with pre-programmed treatment parameters and hardware-level safety limits. Patients were given a package consisting of the stimulator unit and stimulation electrodes (consisting leads and pads) along with three pairs of sponge pouches for the electrode pads, a head cap with openings for the electrodes (Fig 1), a chinstrap and 0.9% saline solution.

tdcsElectrodePouchCap

In Europe, Sooma depression solution was approved for depression treatment in 2014.

tdcsSoomaMedical2

Download the Sooma brochure (pdf)

tdcsSoomaMedical

 

tDCS Depression Montage

Marom Bikson (no less!) demonstrating depression montage using the Soterix EasyStrap.

From a recent Marom Bikson slide deck.

From a recent Marom Bikson slide deck (pdf).

Low Field Magnetic Stimulation

All roads LFMS lead to the Harvard Low Field Magnetic Stimulation Lab. But please follow along with what led me here in the story below.

Harvard's Low Field Magnetic Stimulation Lab

Harvard’s Low Field Magnetic Stimulation Lab

I came across Low Field Magnetic Stimulation, or LFMS, in a recent panel talk from SXSW: Superbugs, Magnets & More: Medicine’s Comeback Kids – SXSW Interactive 2015. The conversation is particularly interesting considering panelist Dr. Bennett Shapiro’s background. At Merck he led research that developed over 25 drugs and vaccines. (The panel touches on magnets, phage therapy and fecal transplants, for example.)

Dr. Shapiro’s company (he is the co-founder and non-executive director), Pure Tech Health created Tal Medical, to develop an LFMS treatment/device.
This is most likely the nexus for looking into LFMS in the first place:

Anecdotal reports have suggested mood improvement in patients with bipolar disorder immediately after they underwent an echo-planar magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (EP-MRSI)… Low-Field Magnetic Stimulation in Bipolar Depression Using an MRI-Based Stimulator  (Found on the Tal Medical publications page.)

The panel discusses TMS, which has recently been approved by the FDA for treatment of depression. But Dr. Shapiro goes on to discuss LFMS, which (to my readers anyway) is especially interesting because it uses so little power to achieve its effects. (As opposed to TMS which is too complicated and powerful to ever become part of the DIY community. Never say never!)

In 2013, Tal received initial proof-of-concept data from a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial in patients with major depressive and bipolar disorders conducted by McLean Hospital, a leading psychiatric research hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School. In the study, a single 20-minute treatment demonstrated rapid onset of action, substantial effect size, and a strong safety profile. Given this unique, rapid effect of LFMS treatment, the National Institute of Mental Health has selected LFMS for a multi-site clinical trial. The trial is examining the efficacy and durability of the treatment over an extended period of time in patients with major depressive disorder.

Researching possible patents led to Michael Rohan, Ph.D. and the Harvard Low Field Magnetic Stimulation Lab. I assume there is a partnership between the Harvard Lab, McLean Hospital and Tal Medical, though I could not find any formal announcement. Click through the lab link to do a deeper dive into ongoing research they are presently involved with, including clinical trials.

Canadian study tests electrical stimulation to treat depression in pregnancy | CTV News

Update 12/16/2015: Bouncing this story up to the top again today because of news of a new study that links Autism to SSRI (anti-depressant) use in pregnant women.

The analysis also found that women who were prescribed more than one class of antidepressants during the last six months of pregnancy were more than four times more likely to have a child with autism, compared with women who did not take antidepressants while pregnant.

Update 10/16/2015: Today I learned that this study is ongoing and recruiting participants. If you or someone you know is pregnant and dealing with severe depression, consider contacting study author Simone Vigod at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Study Protocol. You can also follow Simone on Twitter.

Watch the video at CTV.
tdcsPregnantCTV

Tatania Samburova, a Russia-born economist who immigrated to Canada two years ago, developed depression before becoming pregnant. Her depression left her feeling hollow, even suicidal.

“You do not feel yourself living. You do not want anything, you do not want to go somewhere, to do something,” she said.

Her doctor offered her antidepressants, but, while she knew they would offer her relief, she decided against using them over fears they may harm her child.

“Even if it will bring me, right now, some kind of relief, it can also affect the life of a little child,” she said.

Instead, she travelled to Mount Sinai (hospital) every day for three weeks to be treated as part of the study. She doesn’t know for sure if she received a sham treatment or the actual tDCT stimulation but suspects she had the actual therapy because within days her appetite returned and she felt her mood lifting.

“This treatment brought happiness back to me; it brought life back to me,” she said.

She remains well today, with her baby due mid-March.

Vigod notes that some women are so desperate for treatment that they are not waiting for the study results.

“I can tell you anecdotally that women are buying devices like this in the U.S. and using them at home, but they haven’t really been tested to see if it works to make the depression better.”

via Canadian study tests electrical stimulation to treat depression in pregnancy | CTV News. HDCstim (device shown)

tdcsPregnantDepressionStudy

From the study protocol: The active tDCS intervention is active 2 mA tDCS. Direct current is transferred continuously for 30 minutes with a pair of saline-soaked sponge electrodes (contact area of 5 × 7 cm), and delivered by a specially developed, battery-driven constant current stimulator. The electrodes are placed over F3 and F4 according to the 10–20 international system for electroencephalogram placement.

Hooking up: zapping your brain

Katie, 23, has suffered from anxiety and depression since she was 18. When her boyfriend Lee told her about transcranial directcurrent stimulation (tDCS), a form of neurostimulation which involves administering a low level of electrical current to the brain, she was sceptical. But Lee had heard that it could help people with mood disorders and wondered if she might benefit from it.

“The first time, I freaked out,” she remembers. “I thought, ‘I can’t cope with putting electrical stimulations in my brain.’ Lee put this machine on and, it’s difficult to explain, but, everything went empty in a good way. I can’t remember if I’ve ever felt like that. I felt relaxed and chilled inside. It was a mad sensation and an out-of-body experience.”

She’d tried anti-depressants in the past but found they didn’t work for her. Now she uses the kit regularly. “It’s improved my life and improved my mind,” she says.

Source: Hooking up: zapping your brain