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Treating depression with tDCS

What is tDCS and how does it work?


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive, well-tolerated treatment method. Two electrodes (anode and cathode) are placed on defined areas of the head, applying a weak direct current trough the skull and generating an electrical field in the stimulated areas of the brain. tDCS directly affects the membrane potential. Depending on the duration, used current and current density, the stimulation either inhibits or activates cortical activity by increasing or decreasing the likelihood of neurons firing. tDCS can therefore be applied to modify neuronal excitability and activity. Studies have demonstrated promising therapeutic effects for major depressive disorder without drug resistance.



Studies show an asymmetrical activity of theneuron populations in the prefrontal cortex of patients with depression. In the left hemisphere (in the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex, DLPFC) the neuronal activity is reduced. Anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC can enhance neuronal excitability in this area. An anti-depressive ef-fect has been observed in several studies after 10 – 15 sessions*.

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