Electrical Stimulation Works as Add-On in Bipolar Depression


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a safe and effective add-on therapy for type I or II bipolar depression, researchers found.

In an intention-to-treat analysis of 52 patients in the randomized, double-blind, Bipolar Depression Electrical Treatment Trial (BETTER), active tDCS had significantly greater antidepressive effects than a sham procedure (differential effect size of −1.68 with a number needed to treat of 5.8, P=0.01), André Russowsky Brunoni, MD, PhD, of the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues reported online in JAMA Psychiatry.

“We were excited to show evidence that tDCS can be clinically effective for this population,” Brunoni told MedPage Today, adding that in their study, the rate of treatment-emergent affective switches (TEAS) was similar between groups. “Nonetheless,” he said, “I would recommend extra caution when applying tDCS for bipolar depressed patients who frequently present manic switches.”

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