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Ultrasound for depression and anxiety

Posted by Hugh on June 25, 2021, at 12:22:31

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) -- There is a possible game changer in the treatment of depression and anxiety.

It's a first-of-its-kind, first in-human research that involves the use of an MRI and special ultrasound.

This research will be conducted at the Providence VA Medical Center, thanks to a $2.3 million award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

"These are difficult problems and they ruin people's lives and we need better treatments to help them," said Dr. Noah Philip, director of Psychiatric Neuromodulation at the VA Healthcare system.

"When people are ill with depression and anxiety, there's deep parts of the brain that are involved. We have no treatments right now that can actually go in to that part of the brain and turn it down non-invasively," said Philip.

But that could change. This four-year research led by Philip is looking at using ultrasound energy to reach those parts.

For demonstration purposes, his research assistant, Christiana Faucher, was fitted with a special ultrasound device that looks like a hockey puck.

Then, she is placed in an MRI machine. It is in this machine that Philip and his team are able to map her brain to exactly pinpoint those areas responsible for depression and anxiety, which Philip said are right in the middle of the brain.

"So, we're really right in the middle of the brain and we're just off the midline in the very middle of the brain" he said.

Once they are identified, doctors administer low intensity focused ultrasound to them.

"It's using the same idea as a screening ultrasound except it's taking the ultrasound energy and making it very, very small and then depositing it deep into someone's brain," said Philip. "This kind of precision in psychiatry, non-invasively is the real true groundbreaking element to this."

Twenty veterans between the ages of 22 and 65 will be enrolled in this study, beginning in August.

Article and video report:




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