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Novel Depression Treatments Can Help Overall Health

Major depression and other mood disorders account for a substantial proportion of medical disabilities in the United States. They can also worsen the outcome of other medical disorders, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

This has led Washington University physicians to practice and develop new and more effective treatments for this devastating disorder, focusing on the use of brain stimulation methods.

These include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a core treatment for severe and refractory mood disorders.

Researchers are developing new methods for use of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), two novel approaches that have received FDA approval in recent years. Several physicians also have expertise in deep brain stimulation (DBS), a form of treatment that is in its infancy as a tool for treating highly refractory psychiatric disorders.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS): Brain activity is triggered through weak electric currents, changing the excitability of corticospinal and corticocortial pathways. 

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