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Monday, 6 September 2010

Non-Invasive Therapy Significantly Improves Depression

"Major depression is a common and disabling brain condition marked not only by the presence of depressed mood but also by its effects on sleep, energy, decision-making, memory and thoughts of death or of suicide."

A unique new therapy that applies electrical stimulation to a major nerve emanating from the brain is showing promise.

In a recently completed clinical trial at UCLA, trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) achieved an average of a 70 percent reduction in symptom severity over an eight-week study period. The study's principal investigator, Dr. Ian A. Cook, presented the results at a recent National Institutes of Health conference on depression and other psychiatric disorders, noting that 80 percent of the subjects achieved remission, a highly significant result in this pilot study.

The stimulator that was used in the depression clinical trial is about the size of a large cell phone. Two wires from the stimulator are passed under the clothing and connected to electrodes attached to the forehead by adhesive. The electrodes transmit an electrical current to the nerve. All the patients in the trial used the device for approximately eight hours every night while asleep. In contrast to antidepressants, no major side effects were noted.

In describing TNS, DeGiorgio, co-principal investigator for the depression trial, explained that what is remarkable about the TNS approach is that it is possible to send signals to key structures deep in the brain without penetrating into the skull.

Cook hypothesized that electrical stimulation of the trigeminal nerve generates a cascading sequence of events in the existing neuronal infrastructure. In essence, he said, "TNS provides a high-bandwidth pathway into the brain."

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Does this further evidence that Major Depression is in fact more based in the physical world than the mental world? Although very successful (80%) the people that didn't benefit from this treatment make me wonder if Depression still isn't as simple as people want to believe!

Any thoughts?

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