Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Transcranial Near-Infrared Therapy on Horizon for Depression

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Transcranial Near-Infrared Therapy on Horizon for Depression

Article excerpt

EXPERT ANALYSIS AT THE APA ANNUAL MEETING

TORONTO -- Transcranial near-infrared light is a promising treatment for depression, Dr. Andrew A. Nierenberg said at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. The therapy is noninvasive and cheap, and enhances the brain's bioenergetic metabolism, potentially offering a treatment alternative to patients with retractory symptoms of depression.

"It's too early for prime time," said Dr. Nierenberg, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. "You can buy these devices on Amazon, but I wouldn't recommend it."

Transcranial near-infrared (NIR) light passes through the skull and stimulates cytochrome c oxidase within the mitochondria, which increases energy production and is anti-inflammatory. "It turns out that transcranial near-infrared light is extremely neuroprotective," reported Dr. Nierenberg, explaining that it has shown real promise in the treatment of traumatic brain injury and is being studied in mood disorders. "My chairman likes it for his joints," he added.

A pilot study of the therapy in 10 patients with major depression, including 9 with anxiety, showed a good response at 2 weeks after a single treatment (Brain Funct. …

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