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Non-invasive therapy significantly improves depression, UCLA researchers say
Date:9/3/2010

Major depression is a common and disabling brain condition marked not only by the presence of depressed mood but also by its effects on sleep, energy, decision-making, memory and thoughts of death or of suicide.

Major depression affects 15 million adults in the U.S., and the World Health Organization projects that by 2020, it will be the largest contributor to disability in the world after heart disease.

While antidepressants have helped many to recover and resume their lives, only 30 percent of patients will experience full remission with the first medication they use. Patients typically move on to try a series of other antidepressants. A persistent problem with such drugs has been major side effects, including obesity, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, drowsiness and nausea.

Now, a unique new therapy that 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, presented the results at a recent National Institutes of Health conference on depression and other psychiatric disorders, noting that 80 percent of the subjects achieved remission, a highly significant result in this pilot study.

TNS is not new to UCLA. It was pioneered for treatment-resistant epilepsy in humans by Dr. Christopher M. DeGiorgio, a UCLA professor of neurology. The results of a positive 12-patient feasibility trial in epilepsy were reported last year in the journal Neurology. A larger, double-blind pilot epilepsy clinical trial is underway at UCLA and the University of Southern California.

The stimulator that was used in the depression clinical trial i
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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