With depression being a major issue amongst people, can technology augment or replace drug therapy for depression?
FREMONT, CA: According to a recent study, about 15 million adults in the U.S. are affected by major depression with symptoms. The treatment for depression generally includes four elements—medication, talk therapy, personal wellness plan, and peer support. However, sometimes, these are not enough. This is the point where technology emerges as a savior.
The following are some of the technologies that assist the patients in fighting the battle of depression.
1. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
In TMS, a special electromagnetic device is placed on the scalp that delivers short bursts of energy to the brain. The energy pulses stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain, which is associated with mood regulation. This therapy does not need surgery, hospitalization, or anesthesia.
2. Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) devices
CES devices work by sending such low-level electric current across the brain and head in short spurts, which people usually can't feel. The device is attached to the head via clips or a headband that is worn on earlobes. These devices have been very effective in treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
3. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
During ECT, a machine sends small electrical currents to the brain to cause a seizure to last for about 30 seconds. The treatment is normally repeated twice or thrice a week. ECT is effective in treating severe depression. The procedure is performed in a hospital with general anesthesia.
4. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
In VNS, a small battery-powered device is implanted below the skin on the left side of the chest. The device delivers a light electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve. VNS therapy is applicable for people of 18 years or above undergoing chronic or recurrent treatment-resistant depression. VNS's antidepressant effect builds up steadily and continues over time.
In biofeedback, a device is worn or attached to earlobe or finger, which measures things like muscle tension, heart rate, and breathing. The feedback is given to the user from the device in the form of flashing or beeping. The feedback changes with the user's physiological reaction. This enables an individual to detect things that can reduce the symptoms of depression. Biofeedback can be used for chronic pain, anxiety, and headaches, among many more issues.
These technologies have provided some relief to those in depression as well as others. Scientists are working on the advancement of these techniques to eliminate depression completely.