Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation in which a polarised direct current of weak intensity is applied directly to the scalp using electrodes. It is a technique which is being intensively investigated for its potential.
The concept may seem simple but the underlying mechanisms are extremely complex and findings in this field of medicine are at their inception. tDCS induces currents in the superficial cortical areas and modulates neuronal excitability and, depending on the polarity of the electrodes, facilitates or inhibits spontaneous neuronal activity.
Published literature of six randomised placebo-controlled trials conducted with 289 depressive patients reported that active tDCS was significantly superior to the placebo, showing a response (more than 50% decrease in symptoms intensity) for 34% of cases against 19% for the placebo, 23.1% remission (symptoms absent) against 12.7% for the placebo.
There is ongoing research for numerous other indications.
We have selected this therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate depression because of the low incidence of side effects (infrequent itching or pinpricking) and for its excellent tolerability. There are few contraindications.
The treatment consists of several 20 minute sessions conducted at 48 hour intervals. 10 to 15 sessions are normally required.
tDCS is not reimbursable by either basic or complimentary insurance schemes.
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Dr JEAN-FRÉDÉRIC MALL
Avenue de l'Avant-Poste 4 – CH-1005 – Lausanne, SWITZERLAND – TEL: +41 21 320 10 05