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Depression & tDCS

As reported by the WHO the burden of depression across the globe at any one moment exceeds 300 million people. Studies of college students indicate depression to be as high as 75 percent. Some reports indicate that 50 percent of the population may be going in or out of depression at any one moment. It is unlikely that anyone will get through this life without being diagnosed or at least having symptoms of depression. First line therapy for many years has been prescription antidepressants though only one third of patients respond after initial treatment.

Multiple clinical trials have found benefit with transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). tDCS is a neuromodulation technique that uses low amplitude direct current to enhance or suppress cortical excitability. Therapy involves placement of 2 electrodes on the scalp for about 20 minutes. When compared to antidepressants and transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), tDCS shows comparable results and in some studies it provides improved outcomes with antidepressants. Numerous studies have also confirmed this therapy to be a very safe therapy with no reported adverse effects. tDCS sessions last 20 minutes are easily implemented in a flexible at home therapy that is very safe and convenient.

Improve Overall Function

  • Improves mood
  • Enhances response to other therapies
  • Safe with no adverse effects


  1. Mayank A Jog et al; Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in depression induces structural plasticity. Sci Rep. 2023; 13: 2841. Published online 2023 Feb 17. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-29792-6. PMID: 36801903. PMCID: PMC9938111
  2. Martin Hejzlar et al; Neurostimulation Methods in the Treatment of Depression: A Comparison of rTMS, tDCS, and Venlafaxine Using a Pooled Analysis of Two Studies. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2021; 17: 1713–1722. Published online 2021 May 28. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S303226. PMID: 34093015. PMCID: PMC8169053
  3. Yuxin Huang et al; Efficacy and Safety of tDCS and tACS in Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Factorial Placebo-Controlled Study Design. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2021; 17: 1459–1468. Published online 2021 May 12. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S295945. PMID: 34012266. PMCID: PMC8128494
  4. Mayank V. Jog et al; A review of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for the individualized treatment of depressive symptoms. Pers Med Psychiatry. 2019 Nov-Dec; 17-18: 17–22. Published online 2019 May 7. doi: 10.1016/j.pmip.2019.03.001PMID: 31938757 PMCID: PMC6959848
  5. Jonathan C. Lee et al; Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Considerations for Research in Adolescent Depression. Front Psychiatry. 2017; 8: 91. Published online 2017 Jun 7. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00091. PMID: 28638351. PMCID: PMC5461263
  6. Colleen K Loo et al; Transcranial direct current stimulation for depression: 3-week, randomized, sham-controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2012 Jan;200(1):52-9. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.097634. PMID: 22215866

Study: Transcranial direct current stimulation for depression: 3-week, randomised, sham-controlled trial

Background: Preliminary evidence suggests transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has antidepressant efficacy.

Aims: To further investigate the efficacy of tDCS in a double-blind, sham-controlled trial (registered at NCT00763230).

Method: Sixty-four participants with current depression received active or sham anodal tDCS to the left prefrontal cortex (2 mA, 15 sessions over 3 weeks), followed by a 3-week open-label active treatment phase. Mood and neuropsychological effects were assessed.

Results: There was significantly greater improvement in mood after active than after sham treatment (P<0.05), although no difference in responder rates (13% in both groups). Attention and working memory improved after a single session of active but not sham tDCS (P<0.05). There was no decline in neuropsychological functioning after 3-6 weeks of active stimulation. One participant with bipolar disorder became hypomanic after active tDCS.

Conclusions: Findings confirm earlier reports of the antidepressant efficacy and safety of tDCS. Vigilance for mood switching is advised when administering tDCS to individuals with bipolar disorder.


  1. Colleen K Loo et al; Transcranial direct current stimulation for depression: 3-week, randomized, sham-controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2012 Jan;200(1):52-9. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.097634. PMID: 22215866

These statements have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. All of the statements made on this document are not anecdotal and have been taken directly from clinical data.