Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Effective Add-On for Bipolar Depression

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Patients in the active tDCS group showed significantly superior improvement in Depression Rating Scale scores compared with those receiving sham treatment.
Patients in the active tDCS group showed significantly superior improvement in Depression Rating Scale scores compared with those receiving sham treatment.

HealthDay News — Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) appears to be effective and safe as an add-on intervention for adults with bipolar depression, according to a study published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

Bernardo Sampaio-Junior, MD, from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues determined the efficacy and safety of tDCS as an add-on treatment for bipolar depression in a randomized trial conducted in an outpatient setting. Fifty-nine adults with type I or type II bipolar disorder in a major depressive episode and receiving a stable pharmacologic regimen were included in the study; participants had 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores above 17. Participants underwent 10 daily 30-minute active or sham tDCS sessions and then 1 session every 2 weeks until week 6.

The researchers found that patients in the active tDCS condition showed significantly superior improvement compared with those receiving sham treatment (βint = −1.68; P =.01). In the active vs the sham condition, the cumulative response rates were higher (67.6% vs 30.4%; P =.01), but the remission rates were not significantly higher (37.4% vs 19.1%; P =.18). The groups had similar adverse events, including treatment-emergent affective switches, except for localized skin redness, which was higher in the active group (54% vs 19%; P =.01).

"In this trial, tDCS was an effective, safe, and tolerable add-on intervention for this small bipolar depression sample," the authors write. "Further trials should examine tDCS efficacy in a larger sample."

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Reference

Sampaio-Junior B, Tortella G, Borrione L, et al. Efficacy and safety of transcranial direct current stimulation as an add-on treatment for bipolar depression: a randomized clinical trial [published online December 27, 2017]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.4040

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