Electroconvulsive therapy and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation are treatment options for people with depression, with or without concomitant pharmacotherapy. Several other neurostimulation techniques are considered experimental for depression although some are used for other indications.
Brain stimulation therapies are an emerging new field in psychiatry and offer potentially safe and efficacious treatments for the major health problem of depression, which is the second leading worldwide cause of disability. Current pharmacological treatments for depression have the two main difficulties of treatment resistance (up to one-third of patients with depression do not remit despite treatment with up to four trials of antidepressant medications) and treatment intolerance (some patients are not able to tolerate side effects from antidepressants). In this context, brain stimulation therapies offer an important additional treatment option for depression.
Picture credit: © Alfred Pasieka/SPL.