Monday, 12 June 2017

Depressed teenagers benefit from new therapy at Monash

Dr Glenn Melvin
A novel therapy that directly stimulates nerve cells in the brain is being trialled by Monash researchers and doctors to treat adolescent depression.

The treatment, Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) uses magnetic pulses to change the activity of nerve cells in the part of the brain thought to be related to depression.

According to a recent national study, five per cent of Australian adolescents (12-17 years) experienced major depressive disorder in the past year.

Monash University’s Dr Glenn Melvin said that currently the first line treatment for teenage depression is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 
“In severe cases, or in cases where CBT has not helped, anti-depression medications may be tried,” said Dr Melvin, Senior Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist at Monash University’s Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology (CDPP).

“Current treatments only work in approximately 50-60 per cent of teens, meaning that a substantial minority do not receive benefit.”

“Unfortunately relapse is common, with a prior Monash study showing that more than 50% will experience another episode of depression within the next five years,” Dr Melvin said.

The new study, led by Associate Professor Michael Gordon from Monash Health and CDPP at Monash University is investigating the comparative clinical efficacy of left-sided high frequency rTMS and right-sided low frequency rTMS.

“Our study is the first to compare left and right sided rTMS in teenagers with depression—we are hoping to determine if one treatment has a better profile, in terms of efficacy and safety, than the other.”

Monash Health is one of only a few sites in the world investigating this novel treatment with adolescents.  Thirteen adolescents have been recruited to the study so far, and the research team aims to recruit 40 candidates.

To find out more, contact the team at:

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