New non-medication treatment for depression including bipolar depression
We are looking for individuals to participate in a trial of transcranial direct current stimulation or tDCS as a potential alternative to medication and electroconvulsive therapy.
Chief Investigator: Professor Colleen Loo
Professor Colleen Loo and her team are conducting a depression treatment trial of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) which could be a potential alternative to medication and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
We are recruiting people to participate in this study who:
- are over the age of 18
- have been experiencing feelings of depression for at least four weeks prior to participating in the study
- are able to commit to the trial for at least four weeks.
Participants for this research trial are required to come to the Black Dog Institute in Randwick for one hour every weekday for four weeks with the option of additional treatment. For more information call 02 9382 2987 or email TMSandDCS@unsw.edu.au
What is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)?
tDCS is a very mild form of brain stimulation. The stimulation is painless with no known serious side effects. It is given when a person is fully awake and alert with the stimulation session lasting 30 minutes.
When is tDCS used?
tDCS is a potential treatment for depression, offered as an alternative to antidepressants and ECT. Research suggests that tDCS may have an antidepressant effect when applied over the frontal areas of the brain.
How could tDCS help me?
Previous studies have found that tDCS can be an effective form of treatment for depression. Approximately 50% of participants have shown a significant antidepressant response. Improvements in mood and other symptoms have also been demonstrated in typically hard to treat populations such as people with treatment resistant depression (TRD).
Using tDCS to treat depression
The beneficial effects of tDCS on mood have been reported since the 1960s and 1970s. Recently our researchers carried out a large research trial which compared tDCS with a placebo. The results of the trial provided further evidence that tDCS has antidepressant effects. Our research team, led by Professor Colleen Loo, are collaborating with international researchers to further improve the effectiveness of tDCS and test its effectiveness in bipolar disorder as well as non-bipolar depression. It is thought that tDCS works by modifying and correcting brain activity levels i.e. tDCS can increase brain activation in areas that are underactive or reduce brain activation in areas that are overactive.
How long does tDCS take to work?
The stimulation takes 30 minutes per session with one session every weekday. A course of at least four weeks is recommended for therapeutic results.
How safe is tDCS?
Research into the use of tDCS in humans has been conducted for over two decades, and to date there have been no serious adverse effects found with stimulation. Research using animals has found that the stimulation is too weak to result in any injury. Our research team has conducted over 4000 sessions of treatment using tDCS with only very mild side effects, such as tingling or itching on the skin below the electrode pads.
What is the cost to be involved in the tDCS trials?
For participants in our study treatment will be provided free of charge and all participant details will be kept confidential.