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Other Treatments for Depression 

There are other treatments for depression available. They include brain stimulation and complementary therapies.

Brain stimulation

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to treat severe depression or depression that does not get better with medicine and counseling or therapy. In ECT, electricity is briefly sent to the brain through electrodes placed on your head. Studies have shown that ECT is an effective short-term treatment for depression.

Other types of brain stimulation have not been studied as well and may be expensive. They are usually considered only if other treatment does not work. They include:

  • Deep brain stimulation. A device that uses electricity to stimulate the brain is put in your head. It is used for Parkinson disease but has not been as well studied for depression.

  • Vagus nerve stimulation. A generator the size of a pocket watch is placed in your chest. Wires go up from the generator to the vagus nerve in your neck. The generator sends tiny electric shocks through the vagus nerve to the brain.

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation. An electromagnet is placed on your head and sends magnetic pulses that stimulate your brain.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are sometimes used for depression. In studies, mindfulness, meditation, and other relaxation exercises have been shown to be helpful for depression and anxiety symptoms.

Over-the-counter herbs and supplements may also be used. Even though these are sold over the counter, they can still interact with medicines or cause side effects. The herb Saint John’s wort is a more commonly used example.  Always tell your healthcare provider if you are using any of them. 


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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