Brain stimulation therapies are used to curtail the sentimental agony that can come with conditions like depression that are treatment-resistant. “Brain stimulation therapies involve the application of electric energy over specific brain regions to modulate the function of neural circuits,” says Joshua Burman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

The electricity can be given promptly by electrodes rooted in the brain, or non invasively through electrodes placed on the scalp. The electricity can also be incited by using magnetic domains applied to the head.

Following are some stimulation therapies -

1. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

2. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

3. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (RTMS)

4. Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST)

5.Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

Out of the above-mentioned therapies, ECT is considered to be the most effective therapy and has also been used since a really long time for treatments whereas the rest of the therapies are fairly new. This blog discusses ECT and VNS.


This therapy uses electric current to treat intense depression which becomes treatment-resistant. It may also be medically proposed for the treatment of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It is also used in life-threatening events such as when a person is undergoing severe suicidal tendencies or going through Catatonia.

How it works

  • The person is sedated with common anaesthesia and given a muscle relaxant to stave off movement during the procedure.

  • Electrodes are placed at critical areas on the head.

  • An electric current passes through the brain via the electrodes, inducing a convulsion that lasts normally less than one minute.

  • Ten minutes after the process ends, the patient yields consciousness. They may feel nauseous at first as the anaesthesia wears off. But after about an hour, the patient is usually active and can resume ordinary activities.

Side effects

  • Headache

  • Upset stomach

  • Muscle aches

  • Memory loss

ECT reduces the chances of retrogression when patients undergo follow-up treatments. Also, ECT begins to work quicker, often commencing within the first week and older individuals especially concede quickly.


Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) works through a device implanted under the skin that transmits electrical pulses through the left vagus nerve, the counterpart of a well-known pair of nerves that run from the brainstem through the neck and down to each side of the chest and abdomen and is used as a treatment for epilepsy and to reduce symptoms of depression.

How it works

A device called a pulse generator is surgically embedded in the upper left side of the chest.

30-second electrical pulses are sent about every five minutes from the generator to the vagus nerve

The vagus nerve, in turn, delivers those signals to the brain. The device can also be temporarily turned off by placing a magnet over the chest where the pulse generator is implanted.

Side effects

  • Infection from the implant surgery

  • Device may come loose, move around or malfunction

  • Voice changes or hoarseness

  • Cough or sore throat

  • Neck pain

  • Discomfort or tingling in the area where the device is implanted

  • Breathing problems, especially during exercise

  • Difficulty swallowing

VNS is hoped to be given along with other conventional therapies, such as medications and patients should not expect to terminate these other treatments, even with the device in place.

#therapy #mentalhealth #brain #electromagneticcurrent #didyouknow #depression #brainstimulation

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