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At-home Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Depression in Pregnancy

Depression in pregnancy is a common and concerning issue that can impact an individual’s well-being and the health of the developing baby. Current options of treating depression include psychotherapy or talk therapy, and antidepressant medication treatments. For some people — especially those with more significant symptoms of depression — therapy can take weeks to months to improve symptoms or might not work on its own — leaving the depressed individual and developing baby to be exposed to the negative effects of depression during that time. Medications can be highly effective, and take effect quickly, however, people do not always wish to take them in pregnancy.

Thankfully mental health research continues to expand to find new treatment options for depression in pregnancy. Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis is Sunnybrook’s principal investigator on a project led by Dr. Simone Vigod at Women’s College Research Institute; collaborators include those at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They have launched a randomized controlled trial to investigate if transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) works better than usual non-medication care alone to relieve depression symptoms in pregnant individuals.

tDCS is a non-drug treatment for depression. It is based on the understanding that there are abnormalities in activity in certain regions of the brain when a person is depressed. tDCS uses 2 electrodes placed on the scalp to stimulate brain activity in those areas while a person is awake, sitting down, working with a therapy manual for depression in pregnancy. The tDCS device is small and easy to use, and patients have been trained to use it on their own outside of the hospital or clinic setting.

The team is looking for research participants who are pregnant to be trained to apply tDCS at home and work on a depression in pregnancy therapy workbook.

You may be eligible to participate in the clinical trial if you:

  • ≥18 years of age
  • 12-32 weeks pregnant
  • Have symptoms of depression that are moderate in severity
  • Do not wish to take antidepressant medication to treat the depression symptoms

This study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

For patients receiving obstetrical care at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre or in North Toronto:

You may directly contact the Sunnybrook trial site’s research assistant:

Morgan Sterling
morgan.sterling@sri.utoronto.ca
416-480-6100 x 685217

For patients receiving obstetrical care at Women’s College Hospital: 

You may directly contact the trial site at Women’s College Hospital:

Katie Bishop
Research Assistant
416-351-3732 x 5242
kate.bishop@wchospital.ca