UCLA researchers have found a unique new therapy that could help those suffering from depression.
The therapy applies electrical stimulation to a major nerve emanating from the brain is showing promise.
In a recently completed clinical trial at UCLA, trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) achieved an average of a 70 percent reduction in symptom severity over an eight-week study period.
The study's principal investigator, Dr. Ian A. Cook, the Miller Family Professor of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, noted that 80 percent of the subjects achieved remission, a highly significant result in this pilot study.
The stimulator that was used in the depression clinical trial is about the size of a large cell phone. Two wires from the stimulator are passed under the clothing and connected to electrodes attached to the forehead by adhesive. The electrodes transmit an electrical current to the nerve. All the patients in the trial used the device for approximately eight hours every night while asleep. In contrast to antidepressants, no major side effects were noted.
"The major branches of the trigeminal nerve in the face are located close to the surface of the skull and can be stimulated either with non-invasive external electrodes, as we used in this trial, or with minimally invasive subcutaneous electrodes," Cook said.
He added that some patients may prefer to have miniature subcutaneous electrodes implanted under the skin rather than applying new electrodes daily. The study was presented at a recent National Institutes of Health conference on depression and other psychiatric disorders.