Medications and psychotherapies are the primary remedies for people suffering from psychological illness, such as depression, which affects more than 120 million people around the world. Unfortunately, not everyone who suffers from depression can be cured through medications and psychotherapies. The fact that it is not the most straightforward illness to cure makes depression a serious condition that if left untreated can lead to people taking their own lives. Sadly, this is just what happened to the late comedian and actor Robin Williams.
People experiencing chronic depression who are unable get a successful remedy via medications and psychotherapies struggle everyday just to go on with their normal routine. They are desperate to seek any alternative way to get better so they can live a normal life again. This is a gap that is looking to be filled.
To fill this gap, there are several interventions of interest in the psychiatric arena. One complementary approach is electronic stimulation. For a while, this technique was perceived as rather controversial being linked to a form of punishment or control as shown in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…
Contrary to what has been portrayed on the silver screen, electronic stimulation is becoming increasingly popular, especially among those suffering from the maladies that can’t be treated with medications.
Since the brain is both a chemical and electrical organ, it is very logical that the use of electronic stimulation can affect brain function the same way medications can do.
In in recent years Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation or tDCS has shown much potential in managing various conditions such as depression, dementia, migraine, blurred vision, and stroke. Initial research was conducted on healthy people and it is found to boost brain power. tDCS is a non-invasive painless brain stimulation using neurophysiology techniques to deliver weak electrical currents directly to the brain with an aim to adjust and harmonise the activity of neurons (brain cells).
tDCS delivers a constant, low current directly to a specific area of interest in the brain via small electrodes for a set period of time. The placement of these electrodes is determined by a qEEG (brain mapping). The current range is between 0.5mA to 2mA. A tDCS session lasts 20 minutes. Some sensitive people may feel a slight itching or tingling on their scalp.
Research has shown that tDCS has the possibility to improve language and mathematical skills, attention span, developing problem solving skills, enhancing memory and coordination.
Neurologist Leonardo Cohen of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explained the effect of tDCS as “…giving a small cup of coffee to a relatively focal part of your brain – the one that you know will be engaged in the performance of certain tasks”.
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