The investigators spent the next 10 years using animal models5 to develop an instrument that would provide a low, pulsed electric field (≤1 V/m, 1 kHz) in the brain. Preliminary data on a sham study of 63 patients with unipolar or bipolar depression showed a positive effect with a single 20-minute exposure.6 A larger follow-up study is in progress.
Predictive analytic methods, such as the upcoming collaborative study with Cogito and MoodNetwork, have the potential to transform how we track and treat patients with mood disorders. Big data, patient-centered collaborations such as MoodNetwork have the potential to change the way clinicians form partnerships with patients to do the studies that matter most to them. New methods to deliver energy, such as tNIR and low-field magnetic stimulation, may provide new ways to safely treat mood disorders.
Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD, is the Thomas P. Hackett, MD, Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and director of the Bipolar Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He is also a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the principal investigator of MoodNetwork.org.
- Nierenberg AA, Sylvia L, Doederlein A, et al. Improving the care of patients who have treatment-resistant depression: the promise of the PCORnet Mood Network. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015; 76(4): e528-e530.
- Fleurence RL, Curtis LH, Califf RM, Platt R, Selby JV, Brown JS. Launching PCORnet, a national patient-centered clinical research network. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2015; 21:578-582.
- Schiffer F, Johnston AL, Ravichandran C, et al. Psychological benefits 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment with near infrared light to the forehead: a pilot study of 10 patients with major depression and anxiety. Behav Brain Funct. 2009; 5:46.
- Rohan M, Parow A, Stoll AL, et al. Low-field magnetic stimulation in bipolar depression using an MRI-based stimulator. Am J Psychiatry. 2004; 161:93-98.
- Carlezon WA Jr, Rohan ML, Mague SD, et al. Antidepressant-like effects of cranial stimulation within a low-energy magnetic field in rats. Biol Psychiatry. 2005; 57:571-576.
- Rohan ML, Yamamoto RT, Ravichandran CT, et al. Rapid mood-elevating effects of low field magnetic stimulation in depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2014; 76:186-193.