Multiple methods for treating mental health disorders are available in modern times, including brain stimulation. The efficacy of brain stimulation therapy for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and substance abuse issues is well-documented and scientifically proven.
The process works by stimulating nerve cells in the brain for the purpose of either activating or inhibiting specific responses. Electricity is introduced directly to the brain via internal electrode implants or external (noninvasive) electrodes, the latter of which are connected to the scalp. Magnetic fields are another noninvasive approach used to deliver electricity to the brain as an alternative to electrodes.
Cerebral stimulation methods include several categories. Electroconvulsive therapy is the method with the longest history of use. Some newer methods are still experimental, while others are proving to have ample efficacy.
The Abbott deep brain stimulation (DBS) system is showing signs of positive life-changing capabilities. Vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and magnetic seizure therapy (MST) are all playing roles in the science of brain stimulation today. Various apps, games and programs are also available for brain training purposes.
Read ahead to discover the top 5 long-lasting benefits of brain stimulation on your mental health.
Top 5 Brain Stimulation Therapy Benefits
Multiple types of brain stimulation therapies provide general benefits to recipients across-the-board. Specific long-lasting benefits based on each type of stimulation method also exist.
For example, electric stimulation therapy for depression is potentially beneficial for patients whose depression medications are failing or who have an increased risk of suicidal tendencies. In fact, all brain stimulation therapies provide alternatives to medications and other treatments proven to be ineffective with a specific patient.
The top 5 long-lasting benefits of brain stimulation therapies include:
- Improved quality of life.
- Reduction in anxiety and fear.
- Removal of self-doubt and shame.
- Fewer injuries to neural circuits than pharmacological methods.
- Increased lifespan.
Risks of Brain Stimulation Therapy
Some risks do exist with brain stimulation therapies. Improper use of the equipment is one possible risk. Deep brain stimulation poses a one percent risk of hemorrhaging in the brain, which includes possible strokes. Additional risks and side effects potentially include:
- Visual and/or verbal issues.
- Aching, pulling muscles.
- Worsening of symptoms.
Brain Stimulation on Mental Health Conditions – Recent Studies
Many recent scientific studies published results on the efficacy of brain stimulation for mental health conditions. Brain stimulation therapy for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and substance abuse issues received most of the focus and are discussed in more detail directly below.
Studies on the use of brain stimulation for Multiple Sclerosis to relieve tremors and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were also conducted and found effective to notable degrees.
Studies on the use of brain stimulation therapy to treat epilepsy are reasonably new, which is why they have received significant recent attention. Research conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) contributed to the approval of two brain stimulation devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
These two devices were designed to manage seizures in patients when epilepsy medications fail. Stimulation delivered by these devices targets the anterior nucleus of the thalamus, which is a small element of the brain structure involved in the wider distribution of previously smaller and more localized seizure activity.
Deep brain stimulation therapy was originally developed to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Between eighty-five and eighty-nine percent of Parkinson’s patients experience viable improvements in their symptoms. Success of these treatments is largely dependent on proper placement of the electrodes by the practitioner and the matching of each technique with viable patient candidates.
The Abbott deep brain stimulation system is one system used to treat Parkinson’s patients in the U.S. today. The Abbott system is also the first in the country to use eight electrodes with directional leads. Two electrodes are also segmented. This allows practitioners to turn segments on and off as needed to pinpoint target areas of the brain in varying degrees and with more accuracy.
Depression medication sometimes causes undesirable side effects, including patients no longer feeling like their true selves. While electric stimulation therapy for depression avoids these side effects it is predominantly used on patients who have exhausted all other options including medications, counseling, psychotherapy and even electroconvulsive treatments. Studies show most brain stimulation depression candidates are forty years of age or older because of the time involved to run the gamut on all failed options.
Studies also state the three primary targets in the brain for depression patients pursuant to ultrasound stimulation or other methods are the medial forebrain bundle, ventral capsule/ventral striatum and subcallosal cortex.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI) conducted research. Which resulted in the discovery of links to depression in some patients based on a reduction of activity in the prefrontal cortex. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) focuses on the prefrontal cortex, noninvasively stimulating its nerve cells and reacting dormant functions.
Neuromodulation is sometimes used to treat addiction to crack cocaine and other substance abuse disorders. Crack cocaine is one of the most addictive types of illegal drugs in the world. Use of this drug and many others destroys lives.
Even people who want to stop often cannot. Recent studies have explored the use of neuromodulation, which is created via direct transcranial current stimulation. Brain stimulation therapy targets the areas of the brain linked to addiction and attempts to modify its cell functionality, synapses and behavior.
Pain receptors are not activated during these procedures and therefore avoids triggering the patients the way some medications and counseling activities might.
Effective Apps to Stimulate Your Brain (and keep it healthy)
Brain games for adults Android and Apple provide are useful for improving brain functions. Luminosity is one of the most popular and effective brain training programs on the market today. Free accounts allow users to play as many as three free games each day.
Luminosity subscription plans allow for deeper access or more comprehensive options. Luminosity is one of the best apps to train your brain due to features such as science-supported activities, fitness games and tests. A few more of the best brain training programs available in 2021 include: