A clinical trial of cranial electrotherapy stimulation for anxiety and comorbid depression

J Affect Disord. 2014 Aug:164:171-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.04.029. Epub 2014 Apr 21.


Background: Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental disorders and are usually treated with medication and/or psychotherapy. When anxiety disorders are accompanied with comorbid depression, this further complicates the treatment process. Medication compliance is a common problem due to adverse side effects and new and effective treatments that have minimal side effects are needed for the treatment of anxiety and depression. This study used a randomized, double-blind, sham controlled design to examine the effectiveness of CES as a treatment for anxiety disorders and comorbid depression in a primary care setting. The study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov, NCT01533415.

Methods: One hundred and fifteen participants, age 18 years and over, with a primary diagnosis of an anxiety disorder were enrolled from February 2012 to December 2012 The Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale17 (HAM-D17) were used for baseline and outcome measures at weeks one, three, and five. Response to treatment was defined as a reduction of ≥50% or more on these measures.

Results: Analysis of covariance revealed a significant difference between the active CES group and the sham CES group on anxiety (p=0.001, d=0.94) and on depression (p=0.001, d=0.78) from baseline to endpoint of study in favor of the active CES group.

Conclusions: CES significantly decreases anxiety and comorbid depression. Subjects reported no adverse events during the study.

Keywords: Anxiety; CES; Cranial electrotherapy stimulation; Depression.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skull
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01533415