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A World Beyond Medication: An Introduction into Brain Stimulation Technologies

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter
 
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Have you tried various medications and therapy for your depression, anxiety, insomnia or other mental health issues with no success? Are medication side effects too severe to handle? Within the last several years, multiple brain stimulation technologies have popped up to assist treatment-resistant mental disorders and other health issues.

One alternative treatment option for people with depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraines and chronic pain is the Fisher Wallace Cranial Stimulator. The device requires a prescription in the United States and costs $695, with a $200 per month payment plan. There is a 60-day full refund return policy if the device doesn’t decrease symptoms.

According to the website, “the device generates micro-currents of electricity using patented radio frequencies that have been shown in peer-reviewed research to stimulate the brain’s production of serotonin and dopamine.”

A competing technology is Alpha-Stim. There are two Alpha-Stim devices, one that costs $995 and the other $595. These devices also require a prescription in the United States and treat pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress-related disorders, according to the company’s website. There is a five-year warranty.

Both are portable devices that can be used at home.

However, Paul Holtzheimer, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, is not so confident about the stimulator’s effectiveness.

He specializes in treatment-resistant depression and brain stimulation therapy, and works mainly with transcranial magnetic stimulation, but he is familiar with the Fisher Wallace Cranial Stimulator and its competitor, Alpha-Stim.

“I have not prescribed it largely because the published data essentially is absent for supporting a strong antidepressant effect,” Holtzheimer said, adding that he feels the same about the Alpha-Stim device.

He said he works more with people who have failed one or two medications, and the stimulator probably has only mild antidepressant effects for those types of patients, but he doesn’t completely doubt the device’s usefulness.

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Anonymous

After years of having depression, I am indeed weary from trying different anti-depressants that don't help much, plus the bad side effects can be awful. I am also wary of any new one my doctor suggests. (Hint to writer- you might want to change the typo.) These devices seem like they would be less harmful. I highly doubt my health insurance would cover it though. If it worked well, paying out of pocket would be worth it.

June 26, 2013 - 4:24pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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