Project to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of tDCS to treat depression at home

Project to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of tDCS to treat depression at home

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 la tDCS per tractar la depressió a domicili

The Institut Guttmann will start in the coming weeks a study, funded by La Marató de TV3, to assess the feasibility of the application of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) at home and without medical staff for cases of resistant depression. The project, led by the researcher Gabriele Cattaneo and in collaboration with the principal investigator of the BBHI and professor of the Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences of the Barcelona University, David Bartrés-Faz, will receive 298,850 euros of the 12,147,989 euros raised in La Marató, which have been distributed among 36 research projects.

More than 5% of the population suffers from depression, a pathology that has a major social and economic impact. Pharmacological treatment is effective in most patients, but 30% of them show resistance to medication. In these cases, alternative therapies can be applied using tDCS, a non-invasive and painless neuromodulation technique that applies galvanic current at low intensity to the scalp, with the aim of stimulating specific areas of the brain. This treatment is non-invasive and simple to administer, but its application in care settings and by healthcare workers makes it difficult to scale up on a larger scale.

For this reason, the Institut Guttmann study will evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of applying tDCS at home, using a device designed specifically for this purpose. The researchers will remotely monitor 40 patients with major depression, who will undergo 20 30-minute sessions of tDCS at home for four weeks, applied by a companion who will receive training before the start of the treatment.

The neurobiological determinants of response to treatment will also be studied, as tDCS is not effective in all cases, with the aim of being able to target more individualised and effective interventions in the future. For this reason, participants will undergo an MRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation before the home intervention.