Now a new way to beat depression

Now a new way to beat depression

By: || Updated: 01 Jan 1970 12:00 AM

MELBOURNE: Scientists have come up with a new way to beat depression --
they say stimulating the brain with a weak electrical current can
effectively treat the condition which could also benefit the body and

A team, led by the University of New South Wales, says that
it found up to half of depressed participants experienced substantial
improvements after receiving the treatment in their research, the 'British
Journal of Psychiatry' reported.

A non-invasive form of brain
stimulation, tDCS passes a weak depolarising electrical current into the
front of the brain through electrodes on the scalp. Patients remain awake
and alert during the procedure.

"We are excited about these
results. This is the largest randomised controlled trial of transcranial
direct current stimulation ever undertaken and, while the results need to
be replicated, they confirm previous reports of significant antidepressant
effects," said team leader Prof Colleen Loo.

In their experiment,
the scientists analysed 64 depressed participants who had not benefited
from at least two other depression treatments receive active or sham tDCS
for 20 minutes every day for up to six weeks. "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," Prof Loo said.

Significantly, results after six weeks
were better than at three weeks, suggesting the treatment is best applied
over an extended period. Participants who improved during the trial were
offered follow up weekly 'booster' treatments, with about 85 percent
showing no relapse after three months. "These results demonstrate that
multiple tDCS sessions are safe and not associated with any adverse
cognitive outcomes over time," Prof Loo said in a release.

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