Tags: Depression | brain | stimulation | Parkinsons | disease | depression

Experts Warn Against DIY Brain Stimulation

Experts Warn Against DIY Brain Stimulation
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Monday, 11 July 2016 01:55 PM

Research touting the success of noninvasive brain stimulation in relieving symptoms of movement disorders, like Parkinson's disease, and helping in emotional disorders like anxiety and depression has led to the development of do-it-yourself kits, but experts are warning not to try this technique at home.

“There is much about noninvasive brain stimulation that remains unknown. Some risks, such as burns to the skin, are well recognized. However, other potential problems may not be immediately apparent,” says Dr. Michael D. Fox, who is associate director of the brain stimulation programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of neurostimulation that uses constant, low current delivered to the brain area of interest via electrodes on the scalp. It was originally developed to help patients with brain injuries or psychiatric conditions like major depressive disorder.

But because these devices can be easily made with simple parts and tools, its in-home practice has grown in popularity among lay people seeking alternatives to drugs for depression and attention deficit disorder or just hoping to boost their memory, focus and creativity, says Fox, who, along with 38 fellow experts, have written an “open letter,” which appears in Annals of Neurology.

"Published results of these studies might lead DIY users to believe that they can achieve the same results if they mimic the research studies. However, there are many reasons why this simply isn't true," said Dr. Rachel Wurzman, the letter’s first author. "Outcomes of tDCS can be unpredictable, and we know that in some cases tDCS use can actually make brain function worse,” she adds.

Little is known about tDCS for otherwise healthy people to assume the risks of DIY use. "In sum, it is important to know that whatever brain changes occur may be long-lasting, for better or worse," the authors warn.

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Research showing success of brain stimulation in treating movement and emotional distress is sparking a do-it-yourself movement, but experts warn not to try such procedures at home.
brain, stimulation, Parkinsons, disease, depression
Monday, 11 July 2016 01:55 PM
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