New Advances in Treating Mood Disorders


Unique to MoodNetwork, patient-partners and advocacy groups (International Bipolar Foundation, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide) built MoodNetwork with researchers and clinicians on an equal basis. MoodNetwork provides a platform for patients to contribute to forums, blogs, and ask-the-doctor discussions; opportunities to survey people’s experience of care; and guidance about research questions and outcomes.  

The Rise of the Machines

In addition to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and deep brain stimulation, new technologies are being developed to use energy to improve mood disorders. One promising but preliminary technology is transcranial near infrared radiation (tNIR).

The use of tNIR for mood disorders is based on the principle that it has neuroprotective properties by improving mitochondrial function through photon stimulation of cytochrome c oxidase, which helps transport electrons from complex III to complex IV in the mitochondrial electron transport chain.

The first study was done by Schiffer and colleagues in 20093 and is being followed up with a study by Paolo Cassano, MD, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Another promising intervention for is low-field magnetic stimulation. This potential treatment for mood disorder arose from a serendipitous observation in 2004 that some patients reported feeling  better after proton echo-planar magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging.4