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Neuromodulation Advances Offer Promise for Treating Depression

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Neuromodulation Advances Offer Promise for Treating Depression

For many decades, psychiatric treatment has been primarily focused on the development of medications and the development of psychotherapies. A third type of approach gaining attention in recent years is based in the concept that “that psychiatric dysfunction results from abnormal communication within a network of brain regions that regulate mood, thought, and behavior,” the authors write.

The development of a number of neuromodulation and neurostimulation therapies, the authors note, has been made possible by “technological advances that have revolutionized our ability to understand and modulate the neural circuitry involved in psychiatric disorders.”

Technological advances in the past couple of decades have also led to development of “noninvasive” neuromodulation approaches, which come with fewer side effects and risks than ECT or surgical procedures.
One method, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), uses rapidly alternating magnetic pulses that pass through the skull. Much research is underway looking at potential improvement in rTMS devices and protocols for treatment of depression.

The three primary types of treatment — medication, psychotherapy and neuromodulation — are complimentary not mutually exclusive, and the combination of neuromodulation treatments with other modalities to improve outcomes is an area for future study. For example, "taking advantage of the enhanced neuroplasticity engendered by rTMS by providing psychotherapy within a specific time frame has the potential to synergistically improve efficacy and extend the effect of both treatments.”
American Psychiatric Association

visit www.psychiatry.org.