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Zapping Brain with Electricity Along with Medication Helps Treat Major Depression

Update Date: Feb 07, 2013 02:54 AM EST

Zapping the brain with electric current along with anti-depression pills may help a person fight depression, says a study conducted by researchers from the U.S. and Brazil.

Researchers have found that a combination of Zoloft (sertraline) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) - a kind of electrical stimulation that's non-invasive - can help treat symptoms of moderate to major depression, reports HealthDay.

Estimates by National Alliance on Mental Health suggest that some 25 million people in the U.S. will suffer from major depression this year. Although most people suffer from the occasional blues, people with clinical diagnosis of depression have symptoms like anger and frustration that interfere with daily life.

Dr. Andre Russowsky Brunoni told HealthDay that although Zoloft or tDCS are effective on their own, their combination works with a greater efficiency.

The study included 120 patients who had symptoms of major depression and who were resistant to common treatments for the condition. These patients received one of the four treatments options; Zoloft (sertraline) with or without brain stimulation or placebo with or without brain stimulation.

Study results showed that combination therapy works for depression than single therapy with the drug or brain stimulation.

This is not the first time that a combination therapy has shown better results than single treatment. A recent study published in the journal The Lancet had obtained good results for combination therapy that involved cognitive behavioral therapy.

Also electrical stimulation to treat depression isn't a new idea. A report published last year in Nature Neuroscience on deep-brain stimulation (DBS) treatment for depression had also found this treatment effective in helping people fight depression and other related mental disorders.

"In the field of depression, it's important to know about treatment options, and medications alone don't work for everyone," Sarah Lisanby, a psychiatrist who studies brain stimulation at Duke University told Reuters Health.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

More than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, says World Health Organization. Lack of access to mental care, cost of treatment and more importantly social stigma attached with mental treatment keeps many people away from getting adequate care for depression in developing countries. The agency also says that women are more likely to have depression than men. In the U.S., about one in every ten adults is depressed, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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