Manage Treatment-Resistant Depression With Alternative Neurostimulation Therapies
Alternative neurostimulation therapies may be effective in managing treatment-resistant depression (TRD). These methods are less invasive than traditional antidepressant medications and may have fewer side effects as well.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) – VNS utilizes an implanted device that sends electrical pulses to the vagus nerve in your neck, stimulating the thalamus and hippocampus in your brain to reduce symptoms of depression. There are various types of VNS devices available for different symptom presentations.
Cranial electrical stimulation (CED) is a noninvasive, clinically available approach that uses electrodes to deliver low voltage (low energy) alternating current to the brain. This can be accomplished either with scalp electrodes or cranial implant devices.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a neurostimulation technique that uses two scalp electrodes to deliver low-amplitude (weak) direct currents to specific areas of the brain. It often works in combination with other treatments and can be both safe and effective.
However, there are some cautions with tDCS. Studies have indicated that it may lead to mania and hypermania in patients with treatment-resistant major depression, and other studies have discovered some negative effects on neuropsychological functioning; however, these were not severe.
Furthermore, transdermal corticosteroids (tDCS) can cause skin burns and lesions near where electrodes are placed. Therefore, the FDA suggests that patients with tDCS avoid activities which could cause their skin to burn, such as smoking or exercising.
ECT is the most frequently and effectively treatment for TRD, however it has also been around the longest. While other neuromodulation treatments have been reported to be successful, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, focal electrically administered seizure therapy and transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, ECT remains the go-to choice.
These treatments all have their own advantages and drawbacks. A number of pharmacological and psychological elements contribute to their efficacy.
Psychotic disorders such as mood and anxiety disorders are the most widespread. Fortunately, treatment options for these conditions have grown increasingly effective over time, offering hope to those suffering from them.
Acupuncture, meditation and massage are noninvasive treatments that may help relieve these symptoms. These therapies can be integrated into a comprehensive psychiatric treatment plan alongside medications.
Some of these noninvasive therapies, like acupuncture, have been scientifically proven to be successful in treating depression and other mental health conditions. Other noninvasive modalities like laser therapy or ear acupuncture have also been proven to be successful for a range of medical issues.
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an effective and minimally invasive way to manage chronic pain caused by spinal issues. The small implanted device uses electrical stimulation to alter the signals your body receives from pain in order to alter its perception.
Noninvasive and reversible, the devices can serve as an initial treatment for pain before permanent solutions are prescribed. This makes them ideal for people who prefer not to take medication and may be wary of invasive procedures.