MU Health Care's Neuromodulation Center offers a variety of noninvasive treatments that address mental health conditions by enhancing or suppressing the activity of the nervous system. Neuromodulation can be used as an alternative to medication, particularly in patients who have not fully found success with psychiatric drugs.
The Neuromodulation Center, located in the South Providence Psychiatry Clinic, offers the following treatments:
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
TMS is a noninvasive, nonsurgical procedure that is FDA-approved to treat depression in adults who have not had sufficient success with medication. TMS involves five sessions per week — each lasting 3 to 20 minutes — for up to six weeks. A device that emits magnetic pulses to the brain’s left prefrontal cortex is placed on the patient’s head. The pulses stimulate nerve cells in the brain that control mood.
TMS is an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia, and patients can drive immediately after their session. During treatment, patients will hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping sensation on their head. A small percentage of patients complain of mild discomfort or headaches afterward.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
ECT is a therapy in which small electric currents are passed through the brain to trigger a brief seizure and change brain chemistry. It is available for a variety of mental illnesses. Unlike decades ago, the procedure is now done under general anesthesia with far lower currents to ensure patient safety.
ECT is used to treat patients with severe symptoms of mental illness, including treatment-resistant depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and catatonia. It is an outpatient procedure that lasts 5 to 10 minutes and is generally given three times per week. Patients who have not had success treating depression with medication will sometimes get better responses to medication after being treated with ECT.
Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES)
CES involves sending a very low alternating current to the brain through clips on the earlobes. It is used to treat anxiety. These outpatient treatments can last up to 45 minutes and are administered as needed.
Light therapy mimics sunlight and is used to reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the fall or winter. Patients can sit or work in front of their light box. The light box gives off light waves similar to natural sunlight and can help treat the depressive symptoms related to SAD.
People interested in any of the treatments offered at the Neuromodulation Center should contact their primary care provider or psychiatrist, who can refer them to the MU Psychiatric Center.