Treatment-resistant depression is on the rise. Leading pharmaceutical companies that manufacture seratonin based anti-depressant medication are no longer funding research into this type of medication. Instead researchers are now looking at other procedures and chemicals to treat depression such as psychedelic medication and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression

According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) rTMS is described as not needing anaesthesia, it can be done on an outpatient basis. The way in which it is applied is viw a purpose‑made electromagnetic coil that is held against the scalp with the intention of inducing electric currents in the cerebral cortex. Imaging may be used to help target specific areas of the brain. Treatment is usually considered for patients with depression that has not responded to antidepressant medication or patients for whom antidepressants are not suitable.

In rTMS, repetitive pulses of electromagnetic energy are delivered at various frequencies or stimulus intensities. Conventional rTMS is a repetition of individual pulses at a pre‑set interval (train of pulses), whereas theta‑burst rTMS is a repetition of short bursts of pulses at a pre‑set interval (train of bursts). Stimulation can either be delivered unilaterally, over the left or right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, or bilaterally over both cortices. Bilateral stimulation may be done sequentially or simultaneously. Treatment with rTMS usually comprises daily sessions lasting about 30 minutes, typically for 2 to 6 weeks.

Ketamine and Esketamine Treatment

Ketamine based treatment for depression is available at Warneford Hospital, Oxford whilst Esketamine nasal spray treatment for depression will soon be available at Schoen Clinic Chelsea in London as well as through a number of private psychiatrists.

In the last decade, a number of research groups in Europe and the Americas have conducted studies into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London

The Centre at Imperial College London aims to develop a research clinic that could help to gather additional clinical evidence and become a prototype for the licensed psychedelic care facilities of the future. It represents a watershed moment for psychedelic science, symbolic of its now mainstream recognition.

Kings College London Psilocybin Trials

The Psychedelic Trials Group the Centre for Affective Disorders is undertaking controlled clinical trials with psychedelics and related compounds. These trials are led by Dr James Rucker and Professor Allan Young.

John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research

At the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, researchers will focus on how psychedelics affect behaviour, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression. The researchers hope to create precision medicine treatments tailored to the specific needs of individual patients.