Brain Stimulation Therapies for Mental Health

Alternatives to Drugs in the Treatment of Depression

It’s estimated that around 30 percent of people with depression don’t respond to typical antidepressants. This is known as treatment-resistant depression. An important alternative which can be life-changing is brain stimulation therapy.

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Brain stimulation therapy involves the application of [electric] energy over specific brain regions to modulate the function of neural circuits. This can help alleviate symptoms of depression or other mental illnesses that aren’t responding to typical treatments, such as bipolar disorder. There are five main types of brain stimulation therapies used to treat mental illness: electroconvulsive therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and magnetic seizure therapy. Let’s explore vagus nerve stimulation(VNS) and Deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation was initially developed as a treatment for the seizure disorder epilepsy, and in a happy accident, scientists discovered that it could help with depression as well. The FDA approved VNS for treatment-resistant depression in 2005.

If you’re getting this kind of therapy, doctors will surgically implant a tool called a pulse generator into the upper left portion of your chest. An electrical wire connects the pulse generator to your vagus nerve, which runs from your brain through your neck and into your chest and abdomen. From its command center in your chest, the pulse generator will send bursts of electric currents to your brain every couple of minutes. Pulse generators typically work for around 10 years before they need to be replaced.

It appears as though VNS can improve issues like severe depression by changing levels of neurotransmitters in your brain including serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and glutamate. A 2018 study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry analyzed quality of life reports from 599 people with treatment-resistant depression, finding that those who combined VNS with other antidepressant treatments experienced significant improvements in their quality of life, even if their symptoms didn’t disappear completely. That points to an important fact about VNS: anyone receiving it will need to continue their other treatments (like taking antidepressants). Even so, it can take months to see a difference when using VNS, and the device could shift or malfunction, which may require more surgery.

VNS is not a surefire fix. Some people’s conditions get worse after they try it, not better.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

This started as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Then doctors realized it shows promise for easing depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, too. FDA approved deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder, but not yet for depression.

Like VNS, deep brain stimulation uses pulse generators in the chest to send electrical pulses to the brain. Unlike VNS, which delivers stimulation in bursts, DBS involves more continuous stimulation but you should be able to customize the exact frequency with your doctor’s help.

The Problem: Both Deep brain stimulation and Vagus nerve stimulation describe costly and intrusive procedure involving an implant.

The Solution:

There is another non –intrusive, non-invasive and  way to target the vague nerve: cranial electrotherapy stimulation using CES devices. CES devices can achieve good result at fraction of the cost; and there is no need for an implant.CES therapy is simple and easy. Pre-gelled electrodes are placed in such a manner as to directly The compact size and ear clip electrodes makes it easy to use just about anywhere and under a variety of circumstances. You can your portable CES unit  at home while watching TV, doing the dishes, walking, studying, at the office while poring over a report, etc. You can do so safely, with no serious negative side-effects and at a fraction of the cost and none of the risks of a major operation.

re: > https://www.self.com/story/brain-stimulation-therapies

Coping with Winter Depression

Depression is a chemical habit of the brain. Everyone’s neurochemistry (NC) is slightly different, but everyone is addicted to their own NC. If your NC is that of a depressed person, you need to reverse it. Your brain needs to learn how to go back where it was and start making the NC it used to make. With CES, your brain will remember how to make what it needs. Once your brain’s receptors start calling for the rebalanced levels, you’ll return what was normal for you in the past. Your depression will ebb away.

Winter depression is not a myth

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Despite the fact that millions of us say we’ve suffered a winter-related low mood, it can feel as though the winter blues is just a myth. But there’s sound scientific evidence to support the idea that the season can affect our moods.

Most scientists believe that the problem is related to the way the body responds to daylight. Alison Kerry, from the mental health charity MIND, says: “With SAD, one theory is that light entering the eye causes changes in hormone levels in the body. In our bodies, light functions to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making us wake up.

“It’s thought that SAD sufferers are affected by shorter daylight hours in the winter. They produce higher melatonin, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression.”

If you’re going through a bout of winter blues, lack of daylight is probably playing a part.

Long-term depression happens over a period of time, but now you can get your brain to work for you again. The CES Ultra, using Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES), can bring you true relief. It’s a proven way to treat feelings of depression—without using drugs. Studies show that approximately 70% of people with depression who use the CES Ultra find relief of their symptoms.

CES Can Enhance Learning

CES is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Any betterment of these conditions makes it easier and faster to learn. CES also helps to improve memory and attention.

U.S. Defense is testing Electrical Stimulation to improve learning and military skills

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It takes years to learn some of the most important national security skills, such as speaking foreign languages, analyzing surveillance images, and marksmanship. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) wants to speed up that training process using electrical stimulation to enhance the brain’s ability to learn. The Defense Department’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), announced it had awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to eight university groups that will study and develop such technologies.

DARPA wants to see a 30 percent improvement in learning rates by the end of the four-year program. Studies will be conducted on human volunteers and animals. DARPA did not disclose the total value of the research contracts.

This isn’t DARPA’s first foray into electrical and other kinds of nerve stimulation. In 2014, it sponsored direct brain stimulation research in a project called RAM that aims to restore memory in people with traumatic brain injuries. And in 2015, the agency bet on electrical stimulation as a therapeutic technique for treating disease, awarding contracts through its ElectRx project.

For the new stimulation project, dubbed targeted neuroplasticity training, or TNT, research teams will focus on peripheral nerves that project into the brain and tug at memories. By delivering electrical pulses into the body’s nervous system, the scientists aim to modulate the brain’s neural connectivity and production of key chemicals. That kind of neural tuning can influence cognitive state—how awake you are, or how much attention you’re paying to something you’re viewing or performing.

If it works — if researchers can improve a person’s ability to learn—the DoD could reduce the amount of time spent training soldiers and intelligence agents. “Foreign language training is one of our primary application areas because it’s very time intensive,” Doug Weber, a bioengineer at DARPA who heads up the TNT project. Language courses last more than a year, and only about 10 percent of trainees reach the level of proficiency needed for their jobs, he says.

Weber says he envisions intelligence agents or soldiers wearing some kind of noninvasive stimulation device that delivers precise electrical pulses as they practice their skills. And unlike caffeine or energy drinks, the stimulation can be turned off and, hopefully, causes fewer side effects.

The teams awarded the research contracts will start with the vagus and trigeminal nerves. A team headed up by Stephen Helms Tillery, a neuroscientist at Arizona State University, for example, will study the anatomy and role of the trigeminal nerve—a cranial nerve responsible for sensations and motor function in the face.

Evidence suggests that this nerve complex has access to areas of the brain stem that release norepinephrine, a chemical associated with attention, and dopamine, a chemical linked to the brain’s ability to adapt.

Other awardees are focusing on the vagus nerve—a major neural throughway that connects most of the body’s key organs.

The researchers will likely face some ethical questions, such as the ethics of using enhancement on war fighters; and if electrical stimulation proves effective at enhancing learning, how pervasive and mandatory it would become in the military is unclear.

ref> https://spectrum.ieee.org | https://asunow.asu.edu

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) for Anxiety

James Lake, MD - cranial electrotherapy

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) has beneficial effects on many mental problems

Micro-current electrical stimulation, also called cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of insomnia, depressed mood, and anxiety but is not widely used or recommended by psychiatrists and other mental health providers. Treatment consists of applying very weak pulsed electrical current to the earlobes or scalp.

CES changes the brain’s default mode network

The mechanism of action is probably related to changes in cortical brain activity that cause altered connectivity in the so-called ‘default mode network (DMN) (Feusner 2012).’ Small changes in the DMN translate into sustained changes in the brain’s resting state and overall level of arousal resulting in reduced anxiety.

Research findings are positive

Sham-controlled studies and meta-analyses show that CES is a safe and effective treatment of generalized anxiety. A meta-analysis of double-blind controlled trials comparing CES with a sham treatment (ie, electrodes applied but with no current) concluded that measures of generalized anxiety improved in 7 of 8 studies, and the magnitude of improvement reached statistical significance in 4 of these. A larger review encompassing 34 sham-controlled trials conducted between 1963 and 1996 concluded that regular CES treatments resulted in short-term symptomatic relief of generalized anxiety symptoms mediated by direct effects on autonomic brain centers (DeFelice 1997). In a 10-week open trial of daily self-administered CES therapy in 182 individuals diagnosed with DSM-III anxiety disorders, 73% of patients reported significant reductions in anxiety that were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Significantly, one-fourth of patients enrolled in this study had failed trials on conventional drugs, and 58% had received no previous treatment of any kind for their anxiety symptoms. In general, patients who receive at least 4 to 6 CES treatments experience more sustained reductions in anxiety compared to patients who receive fewer treatments.

Individuals diagnosed with one or more phobias by DSM criteria reported significant reductions in transient anxiety when exposure to the phobic stimulus was followed by 30 minutes of CES treatment. Comparable anxiety reduction was achieved with CES and conventional anti-anxiety medications suggesting that CES may be an effective approach for phobic patients who wish to discontinue prescription medications. Hospitalized patients with histories of drug or alcohol abuse reported significant reductions in anxiety compared to matched patients who received sham CES.

Few mild transient side effects but no serious adverse effects of micro-current electrical brain stimulation have not been reported.

by James Lake, M.D. who works to transform mental health care through the evidence-based uses of alternative therapies. Ref: https://www.psychologytoday.com

Clinical trial of Cranial Electrotherapy stimulation in adolescent patient with depression, anxiety and developmental deviation

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Justin is a sixteen year old Caucasian male with a history of psychiatric treatment including medication intervention for developmental deviation with a hyperkinetic element. His history of school functioning had been very poor with low motivation to succeed. His father reports that Justin would often experience feelings of anger and anxiety with behavioral acting out. During the initial psychological evaluation he had great difficulty attending to tasks presented to him, was emotionally labile, and on a measure of depression he scored at the 24th percentile, while on a measure of anxiety he scored at the 2nd percentile with present moment (state) anxiety and at the 27th percentile with general proneness (trait) anxiety. On the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R) Full Scale intellectual functioning was in the Average range (Full Scale IQ = 96) with verbal area functioning in the Low Average range (Verbal IQ = 81) and performance area functioning in the Superior range (Performance IQ = 122).

After thirty days daily usage of at least forty-five minutes with the CES device he was again administered a psychological evaluation. On the same measure of depression Justin scored at the 1st percentile, while on the same measure of anxiety he scored at the 3rd percentile with present moment (state) anxiety and at the 16th percentile with general proneness (trait) anxiety, a noticeable decrease with his levels of depression and trait anxiety. On the WAIS-R Full Scale intellectual functioning was in the High Average range (Full Scale IQ = 111) with verbal area functioning in the Low Average range (Verbal IQ = 88) and Performance area functioning in the Very Superior range (Performance IQ = 139). Higher scores in the Verbal, Performance, and Full Scale areas indicated a gain of more than three standard deviations which by chance alone would occur in less than two in ten thousand cases (p<.0002). He was observed to be much more at ease with a noticeable improvement in his affect and cooperativeness as well as his ability to not only stay on task, but more motivation to do well with tasks. His mother stated that his ability to tolerate difficult situations and tasks was greatly improved as was his mood and that it was much easier and more pleasant to be around him.