Treating severe depression is extremely difficult, with remission rates usually being quite shaky, but a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine promises new light at the end of the tunnel.
Named Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy, or simply SAINT, the treatment is a new form of magnetic brain stimulation that has successfully relieved symptoms of severe depression in 90 percent of participants in the small study.
Before undergoing the therapy, all 21 study participants were severely depressed, according to several diagnostic tests for depression. Afterward, 19 of them scored within the non-depressed range. What’s more, although all of the participants had suicidal thoughts before the therapy, none of them reported having suicidal thoughts after treatment.
Magnetic brain stimulation as a form of treatment is not new in itself, but so far it had an average remission rate of only 48 percent, and it required patients to go through six weeks of daily sessions.
After making some modifications related to the number of electric pulses and the focus area receiving them, the researchers found the treatment took only three days on average for participants to report relieved symptoms of depression.
One month after the therapy, 60 percent of participants were still in remission. Follow-up studies are underway to determine the duration of the antidepressant effects. The researchers plan to study the effectiveness of SAINT on other conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, and autism spectrum disorders.