Monthly Archives: August 2016

A View from the Trenches: Why Psychiatry needs CES – Part 2

Anxiety

There are many non-pharmacologic interventions for reducing anxiety. Some of these include dietary supplements, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and exercise. These interventions, however, are not employed by a large segment of society which suffers from anxiety. These persons instead seek medications from their physician to alleviate their suffering.

ces-treat-anxiety

Typical classes of medications for anxiety include the SSRI’s, benzodiazepines as well as the off label use of antihistamines and atypical antipsychotic medications and antiepileptic medications. In addition to the inherent problems with SSRI’s, there are also problems with the other classes of medications.

A serious potential side effect of benzodiazepines is their potential for inducing physical and psychological dependence. In addition, withdrawal symptoms can prove life threatening, especially with the shorter acting benzodiazepines like alprazolam. When taken as directed, which is often not the case; this class of medications can result in compromised coordination, slowed reaction time, falls, disinhibition, delirium, and anterograde amnesia.

It is not uncommon to see suicide attempts involving a combination of a benzodiazepines together with alcohol and/or another sedative hypnotic. While buspirone is relatively well tolerated, it has poor efficacy and a 3 to 4 week lag time to have an effect. Medications such as gabapentin are used off label but there is no research to support its efficacy for anxiety disorders.

Unfortunately, physicians have begun using the atypical antipsychotic medications to treat anxiety. This class of medications has a large and increasing number of very serious side effects. Recent attention has been focused on their causing metabolic syndrome. They frequently cause extra pyramidal side effects, sedation, elevated prolactin levels and drug/drug interactions. All of these medications should be avoided during pregnancy and used with caution in the elderly.

In short, the side effect profile of current pharmacologic treatments for anxiety limits their safe use. CES is a safe, initial alternative to such medications.

By Jason Worchel, M.D., a noted psychiatrist and Director of the Hilo Mental Health Center in Hilo, HI. This post is from a paper written by Dr. Worchel in his testimony before the F.D.A. concerning the effectiveness and safety of CES from the perspective of a practicing psychiatrist.

Safety of Ces Ultra

It is interesting to note that not one problem from negative side effects has ever been reported in any published CES study. None of the patients has raided the fridge during the night and gained weight. None has complained of grogginess the next day. None has complained of headaches or a foggy feeling following treatment. Nor has CES been associated with increased suicide rates. When asked, CES patients have reported instead feeling more rested, more alert, and less tired following treatment.

One interesting clinical detail we learned early on is that patients who have not been sleeping well when they enter a study – many of them, by definition – sometimes make up for lost REM sleep during CES treatment and have the most vivid, most colorful dreams they have ever had. We learned to warn study participants of this in advance, since some earlier patients associated this with incipient schizophrenia or some other serious mental condition. Once alerted to the possibility they have always looked forward to the effect with real anticipation.

from A Summary Look at CES Studies of Cognitive Function, Ray B. Smith, Ph. D

Non-invasive Neurotechnologies as part of Digital Revolution

brain-technology

The tech sector is likewise witnessing an unprecedented explosion in brain-related technology, both in the amount of dollars invested as well as the variety of novel applications developed—ranging from car-based sensors detecting and minimizing inattentive driving, to virtual reality systems discerning consumer brain responses for yet-to-be-build products, to audio headsets that can detect your mood and adjust music to lift you up.

Relevant patent filings have soared in number — from 800 in 2010 to 1,600 last year. Neurotechnologies—at least those that, being non-invasive, pose few if any negative side-effects—are likely to become ubiquitous, pervasive.

To predict the future, it helps to examine one key leading indicator of tech investment: patent activity.

For example, in 2012, Google filed a patent application for a glucose-sensing contact lens to assist diabetic monitoring of blood sugar levels. A couple of years later, Google presented a prototype of the device and revealed a partnership with biotech leader Novartis to commercialize the smart contact lens.

Neurotechnology patents reveal similar insights. Several years after receiving a patent for biosensing wearable tech to communicate with household devices, Philips announced a proof of concept developed with Accenture for a brain-wave reading headset application to control home televisions and lighting merely by thought. And both Philips and Accenture have been active filing for relevant patents, which suggest in short order we will see an innovative solution that can potentially improve the lives of 400,000+ people suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the debilitating neurodegenerative condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Under the radar, brainwave reading technologies are being patented by IT giants such as Microsoft and IBM, trying to create a technological ecosystem that works WITH our brains — rather than AGAINST them. These patents, for example, describe new approaches to improve productivity through techniques like blocking distracting notifications from someone whose brain signals indicate they are highly focused on a particular task.

Our consumption behaviors are also being affected by neurotechnology. Consumer-research behemoth Nielsen has an entire neuroscience division dedicated to measuring consumers at their most fundamental level — their brain activity. Nielsen patents show neurotechnology applications incorporating multidisciplinary approaches with other cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality systems, and even how these same research approaches could be used to improve home-based healthcare.

Improving technology, improving ourselves

But neurotechnology isn’t just geared towards monitoring brain activity. Significant venture funding and patent activity is being directed at products that can enhance brain functioning through neurocognitive training and through cutting-edge (and not fully tested) magnetic and electrical stimulation devices.

It is high time for the Digital Revolution and the Human Brain to meet each other.

The next phase of the Digital Revolution will bring even more new methods of marrying technology with the creative industries, such as media, fashion, music, entertainment, education, literature, and the arts… This innovation will come from people who are able to link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology, and poetry to processors. In other words, it will come from the spiritual heirs of Ada Lovelace, creators who can flourish, where the arts intersect with the sciences and who have a rebellious sense of wonder that opens them to the beauty of both.