The patch, which looks like a small plaster attached to a battery pack with wires, is said to stimulate certain nerves under the skin which feed into key areas of the brain that affect mood.
During trials of the device, a 50% improvement in symptoms was recorded in patients suffering from depression. The patch has also been revealed to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in patients who failed to respond to standard drug treatments.
The device has been named the ‘external trigeminal nerve stimulation patch’ and was presented at a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London this week. The inventor, Dr Christopher DeGiorgio (professor of neurology at the University of California), has said that the nerves stimulated by the patch relate to key regions within the brain that modulate both mood and epilepsy. It also increases blood flow in areas that typically have decreased blood flow in patients with depression.
Figures show that one in 10 adults in the UK are diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives and according to recent statistics, prescriptions for antidepressant medication has risen fourfold in the last 20 years.
Dr DeGiorgio has now set up a company to market the device (called NeuroSigma) and the treatment has been approved for use in Europe. The team are hopeful that the patch will be available on the NHS by the end of this year.
The researchers responsible for the patch are now also looking into creating an implant that can be worn at all times by epilepsy sufferers.
If you are suffering from depression, it can help to talk to someone objective like a counsellor. To find out more about the condition and to find a counsellor who deals with depression, please see our Depression page.
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