Effect of Self-administered Transcranial Direct Stimulation in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Single-blinded Clinical Trial
Jihoon Oh 1, Kuk-In Jang 1, Sekye Jeon 1, Jeong-Ho Chae 1*
Department of Psychiatry, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine
Received: October 22, 2020; Revised: December 27, 2020; Accepted: December 31, 2020; Published online: December 31, 2020.
© The Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Background: In numerous studies that have addressed tDCS devices, participants visit the hospital regularly and undergo stimulation directed by health professionals. This method has the advantage of being able to deliver accurate stimuli in a controlled environment, but it does not adopt the merits of tDCS portability and applicability. Thus, it may be necessary to investigate how self-administered tDCS treatment at home affects depression-related symptoms.
Methods: In this randomized, single-blinded clinical trial, 58 patients with major depressive disorder were assigned to active and sham tDCS stimulation groups, and treatment responses were evaluated biweekly over six weeks. Both active and sham tDCS treatment group were treated with escitalopram. All participants were instructed the protocol and usage of at-home tDCS device, and self-administered tDCS treatment at their home.
Results: The Beck-Depression Inventory (BDI) score decreased significantly as treatment progressed, and the degree of symptom improvement was significantly higher in the active group than in the sham tDCS group. There were no significant differences between the two groups in other indices, including the Hamilton Depression Scale.
Conclusions: These results suggest that patient-administered tDCS treatment might be effective in improving subjective symptoms of depression.
Keywords: tDCS, depression, at-home treatment