Electromagnetic treatments to replace electroconvulsive therapy?
Most individuals are responsive to traditional treatments for clinical depression, which include talk therapy and medications. However, there are still an estimated 15 to 20 percent of individuals suffering depression that do not experience successful outcomes with traditional measures. Previously, many of these patients have turned to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which has a 60 to 70 percent response rate; however, due to the adverse side effects of ECT and the emergence of research targeting a variety of electromagnetic treatments, ECT may soon be a relic of the past.
There are many different forms of electromagnetic treatment that are currently being researched. One of these treatments is FDA approved; it is referred to as vagus nerve stimulation. Originally used to treat epilepsy, clinicians noticed that vagus nerve stimulation improved mood. According to A. John Rush, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, pulses that are sent to the vagus nerve “…go to specific areas in the central nervous system that control mood, motivation, sleep, appetite, and other symptoms that are relevant to depression.” This is one of many developing electromagnetic treatments for depression which show promise. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses these varying treatments:
There’s a new wave of research into targeted electromagnetic treatments for resistant depression, all aiming to relegate traditional electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to obsolescence.
An estimated 15% to 20% of depressed patients don’t respond to drug or talk therapies, sending many into the realm of ECT. Although 60% to 70% of patients respond to ECT, its baggage includes frequent adverse side effects and a bad PR problem.
Now, a variety of alternative approaches that apply electrical currents to the brain are in the research pipeline, and one is FDA approved. They include:
* Vagus nerve stimulation
* Magnetic seizure therapy
* Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
* Deep brain stimulation
* Transcranial direct current stimulation
* Implantable cortical stimulation