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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Controlled Trial

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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Controlled Trial

Mohammad Javad Ahmadizadeh et al. Brain Res Bull.

Abstract

Currently, there is not definitive information regarding the efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study aimed to examine the efficacy of tDCS for PTSD and its sub-symptoms. In a double-blind, controlled randomized clinical trial, 40 participants with PTSD were randomly assigned to receive either 10 tDCS sessions delivered at 2 mA to the right (cathode) and left (anode) dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) or 10 sham tDCS sessions to the same area. A blinded rater assessed PTSD, depressive, and anxiety symptoms before treatment, following it, and after a 1-month follow-up period. According to the results: i) PTSD patients demonstrated a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms, hyper-arousal and negative alterations in cognition and mood sub-symptoms as well as depressive and anxiety symptoms in the active stimulation compared to the sham stimulation at post-treatment and follow-up; ii) active stimulation when compared to sham stimulation revealed greater reductions in re-experiencing sub-symptoms from baseline to post-test. However, follow-up differences did not reach significance; iii) With respect to avoidance sub-symptoms, there were no significant differences between the active and sham stimulation at post-test and follow-up. This study supported the efficacy of 10 sessions of bilateral DLPFC tCDS delivered at 2 mA for the treatment of PTSD symptoms. Taken together, these findings suggest that although tDCS can reduce PTSD symptoms, researchers should consider the different types of PTSD and use strategies to ensure sufficient power to detect a potential effect of tDCS on various types of PTSD.

Keywords: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

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