Using tDCS to help cope with depression and anxiety during COVID-19
Health is true wealth during the COVID-19 pandemic (although stimulation in the economy would be nice), a trying time where the unexpected can put unneeded stress on our minds and bodies.
Although many may focus on eating nutritiously and staying in shape, we can’t neglect the fact that the isolation that the coronavirus has put us in has a profound effect on our mental state. Especially for those who are prone to bouts of depression and anxiety, live with these conditions every day, or have a hard time being by themselves, managing symptoms and preventing mental stress is important.
For extroverts like myself, cabin fever is a real issue — in this case, feeling intensely isolated due to social distancing.
Strategies like meditation, keeping busy, working on creative projects, and socializing via the internet are some good ways to maintain your mental health, however, with this unexpected storm of emotional risks, there needs to be something more reliable. In general, human beings are social creatures, so isolation can remove those in-personal social experiences that are so crucial as antidotes to depressive and anxious symptoms.
Worry, anxiety, hopelessness, loneliness, and more, are powerful emotions that we may have to deal with and protect ourselves from.
tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) is a novel, in-demand therapy that has seen a rise in popularity due to its accessibility and fantastic results. It is proven to be a safe way to treat many diseases such as chronic pain, depression, and anxiety by providing a non-invasive brain stimulation intervention (Stein, Medeiros, Caumo & Torres, 2020).
This at-home treatment is especially ideal in the coronavirus pandemic because you can get a device delivered to your door and start reaping in the benefits. A classic device uses electrodes that are placed on the scalp, but newer models opt for a headset style that sometimes have app compatibility.
These devices work by delivering a low electric current to the scalp and affect specific sites in the brain. Results show that tDCS has significant effects on high order cortical processes like decision making, language, memory, sensory perception, and pain, and is useful when it comes to emotional regulation.
Plenty of studies have shown the ability of these devices to ameliorate symptoms, for example, one double-blind clinical trial showed that tDCS stimulation achieved a 42.1% reduction in BDI scores compared to a mere 15% reduction in patients taking Flouxetine for the same period of time (Fregni et al., 2006).
Although results in terms of anxiety are not as clear-cut and abundant, tDCS has been shown to help reduce anxiety symptoms as much as pharmacotherapy and is promising in treating depressive and worry symptoms.
If tDCS has piqued your interest, here are some brain stimulation devices that are especially effective for depression and anxiety symptoms.
The Brain Driver V2.1
The Brain Driver has plenty of effectiveness and ease of use, especially its positive effect on PTSD, depression, and anxiety. The device has had lots of media coverage, including features on the Daily Mail, WXYZ Detroit, HBO, Vice News, and the Chicago Tribune. Users report differences in mood and focus within two weeks of daily use and a reduction in social anxiety.
Read the full review on The Brain Driver
Most users report improvement in cognitive processes such as memory, and an increase of a sense of calm. This specific tDCS device aims to enhance users’ lives, help them think sharper, increase focus, and enhance their creativity.
Read the full review on the Omni Stimulator
Fisher Wallace Stimulator
The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is a professional tACS device used by medical professionals, and individuals with chronic pain, mood disorders, and insomnia. It is perfect for those who are resistant to pharmacotherapy, want to reduce or stop a dependence on prescription drugs, or looking for a more serious approach to treatment.
Read the full review on the Fisher Wallace Stimulator