New depression treatment may avoid side effects

October 23, 2012
The treating team; Anne Maree Clinton, Dr Kate Hoy and Professor Paul Fitzgerald with the MST machine.

In an Australian first, researchers are studying Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST) as an alternative treatment for the 30 per cent of patients suffering from depression who don't respond to traditional treatment.

The study, led by researchers from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc) and funded by beyondblue and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has been published in two leading journals: Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging and and Anxiety. Both papers are a result of the same study.

MAPrc Deputy Director Professor Paul Fitzgerald, who led the study, said depression was a common and disabling disorder, affecting up to one in five Australians during their lifetime.

"Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is one of the only established interventions for treatment resistant depression," Professor Fitzgerald said.

"But use of ECT is limited due to the presence of memory-related side effects and associated stigma."

For this reason, the MAPrc researchers began exploring new treatment options. MST is a brain-stimulation technique that may have similar clinical effects to ECT without the unwanted side effects.

"In MST, a seizure is induced through the use of magnetic stimulation rather than a direct electrical current like ECT. Magnetic fields are able to pass freely into the brain, making it possible to more precisely focus stimulation," Professor Fitzgerald said.

"By avoiding the use of direct electrical currents and inducing a more focal stimulation, it is thought that MST will result in an improvement of without the memory difficulties seen with ECT."

Research is still at an early stage and MST is only available in a handful of locations worldwide. The MAPrc is the only centre in Australia conducting trials with this therapy.

The study found that MST resulted in an overall significant reduction in ; 40 per cent showed overall improvement and 30 per cent showed some improvement. None of the trial participants complained of cognitive side effects.

"MST shows antidepressant efficacy without apparent cognitive side effects. However, substantial research is required to understand the optimal conditions for stimulation and to compare MST to established treatments, including ECT," Professor Fitzgerald said.

"In order to accurately assess the comparable efficacy of MST to ECT, large-scale randomised controlled trials are required. There remains considerable work to be done before statements of the relative efficacy of these treatments can be made."

Explore further: Treatment for juvenile offenders shows positive results 22 years later

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … 02/da.22005/abstract

Related Stories

Treatment for juvenile offenders shows positive results 22 years later

November 17, 2011
More than 20 years ago, Charles Borduin, a University of Missouri researcher, developed a treatment for juvenile offenders that has become one of the most widely used evidence-based treatments in the world. Now, he has found ...

Study explains how shock therapy might ease severe depression

March 19, 2012
(HealthDay) -- A small new study gives insight into how electroshock therapy, an effective yet poorly understood treatment for severe depression, affects the brains of depressed people.

Electrical stimulation of the brain is a safe treatment for depression

March 6, 2012
The use of weak electrical currents to stimulate the brain is a safe treatment for depression and might even improve attention and reduce pain elsewhere in the body, an Australian study has found.

Treating stubborn depression

October 3, 2012
At least one in three patients with depression won't respond well to a series of treatments and experts in the field have joined together to outline practical treatments to tackle the issue, in the Medical Journal of Australia ...

Recommended for you

Researchers crack the smile, describing three types by muscle movement

July 27, 2017
The smile may be the most common and flexible expression, used to reveal some emotions, cover others and manage social interactions that have kept communities secure and organized for millennia.

Ketamine for depression encouraging, but questions remain around long-term use

July 27, 2017
A world-first systematic review into the safety of ketamine as a treatment for depression, published in the prestigious Lancet Psychiatry, shows the risks of long-term ketamine treatment remain unclear.

Even babies can tell who's the boss, UW research says

July 27, 2017
The charismatic colleague, the natural leader, the life of the party - all are personal qualities that adults recognize instinctively. These socially dominant types, according to repeated studies, also tend to accomplish ...

DREAMers at greater risk for mental health distress

July 27, 2017
Immigrants who came to the United States illegally as small children and who meet the requirements of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, more commonly known as DREAMers, are at risk for mental health ...

Negativity, be gone—new online tool can retrain your brain

July 27, 2017
Anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on people's lives. In some cases, the mental disorders lead to isolation, poverty and poor physical health, things that often cascade to future generations.

Research aims to shape more precise treatments for depression in women

July 27, 2017
Among women in the United States, depression is at epidemic levels: Approximately 12 million women in the U.S. experience clinical depression each year, and more than 12 percent of women can expect to experience depression ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.