According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, magnetic brain stimulation may help fight depression. In the study, researchers detailed how brain stimulation therapy boosted the efficacy of antidepressants.
For the study, researchers recruited 120 patients suffering from moderate to severe clinical depression. According to results, patients who received Zoloft and transcranial direct current stimulation fared better than those who took the medication alone. For the study, patients self-reported their depression levels on a fixed schedule. On a scale of 0-60 (with higher numbers indicating severe depression), patients averaged a 31 without medication or transcranial direct current stimulation. With the brain stimulation and antidepressant, the average score dropped to 13 after 40 days.
Sarah Lisanby is a psychiatrist at Duke University. In prepared remarks, she said, "In the field of depression, it's important to know about treatment options, and medications alone don't work for everyone.” She continued, "Now there's a broadened array of new, device-based therapies that allow us to affect brain function in less invasive ways."
As of now, no direct current brain stimulation devices have approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, Brainsway, a medical device manufacturer, was able to pick up FDA clearance for its Deep TMS System. The Deep TMS System is a transcranial magnetic stimulation device. Neuronetics, another manufacturer, also markets a transcranial magnetic stimulation device.