Tag: tDCS

Reading of the Week: tDCS for Depression – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Psychiatrists & AI and Dr. Daniel Gorman on Charlatan Syndrome

From the Editor

In her autobiography, psychiatrist Linda Gask writes about her struggles with depression and the moment she realized that she was better: she started to hear the birds chirping again. For many of our patients, the songs of the birds remain elusive. Antidepressants work but some patients don’t respond, and others are cool to the idea of medication management. CBT is effective but difficult to access. What about Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) – an intervention that could be done at home?

Dr. Lucas Borrione (of the University of São Paulo) and his co-authors try to answer that question in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. They report on a randomized clinical trial including 210 Brazilian adults with a major depressive episode who were offered tDCS and a digital intervention; the study featured two sham interventions. “The findings indicate that unsupervised home use tDCS should not be currently recommended in clinical practice.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Would tDCS have helped?

Artificial intelligence is having a moment. Not surprisingly, many are seeing the possibilities for mental health care, from better therapy to reduced paperwork. In the second selection, from Psychiatry Research, Charlotte Blease (of Uppsala University) and her co-authors report on the findings of a survey of 138 psychiatrists with both qualitative and quantitative data. “The foremost interest was around the potential of these tools to assist psychiatrists with documentation.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Daniel Gorman (of the University of Toronto) writes about the struggles of taking a child to Disney World in JAMA. Any parent – or aunt or cousin or older sib – can relate. But Dr. Gorman notes the particular challenges that he faces: he’s a child psychiatrist. “Sometimes I fantasize about sharing with parents my doubts about parenting strategies, but the risks always seem too great – the risk of discrediting myself and my profession and the risk of robbing parents of agency and hope.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: tDCS vs Sham for Depression – the New Lancet Paper; Also, US Ketamine Seizures and Dr. Lamas on Medical Practice & AI

From the Editor

He’s tried several medications, but still struggles with his depression. The story is too familiar. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is an option, and increasingly the focus of research. With relatively few side effects and the possibility of doing the treatment at home, the advantages of tDCS are clear.

But how do patients taking antidepressants respond? In the first selection, from the pages of The Lancet, Dr. Gerrit Burkhardt (of the University of Munich) and his co-authors report the findings of an impressive study, with a comparison against sham treatment, across eight sites, and involving triple blinding. “Active tDCS was not superior to sham stimulation during a 6-week period. Our trial does not support the efficacy of tDCS as an additional treatment to SSRIs in adults with MDD.” We consider the paper, an accompanying Comment, and the implications.

In the second selection, Joseph J. Palamar (of New York University) and his colleagues analyze data on US ketamine seizures in a Research Letter for JAMA Psychiatry. They view seizures as a measure of recreational and nonmedical use, and conclude: “These data suggest increasing availability of illicit ketamine.”

And in this week’s third selection, Dr. Daniela J. Lamas (of Harvard University), an internist, writes about AI for The New York Times. In thinking about medical practice, she sees artificial intelligence doing more and more, and ultimately helping with diagnosis. She also sees trade-offs. Still, she concludes: “Beyond saving us time, the intelligence in A.I. – if used well – could make us better at our jobs.”

Note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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