People living with anxiety, depression or insomnia are being encouraged to look at cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) as a way to manage their condition.
CES uses a device that stimulates the brain with a current that cannot be sensed.
Mental health professional Dr. Eric Bartky of Livingston, New Jersey, believes the greatest advantage of CES is that patients can receive it "without worrying about prescription medicine."
Bartky said it also depends on each individual patient as to whether they are open to trying the wearable brain simulators. One maker of the FDA-cleared devices, Fisher Wallace Laboratories, reports having over 9,000 active prescribers. Some patients that arrive at Bartky's clinic for evaluation prefer medication, but others are open to trying CES.
"Yes it is effective," Bartky told Patient Daily. "I think that it is not more widely used because when one is training to be a physician, it is not a treatment model that students are exposed to."
In training, Bartky explained, students start with an empty tool box, and work with those through their career. CES is not included in most medical students' training.
"Some learn new tools, others do not feel comfortable trying the treatment," said Bartky, adding that he first learned of the treatment years ago during a talk by Dr. Richard Brown, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.
Lori Smith, from Canada, has been using CES for approximately five years to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia that she has suffered from for decades.
"When I started using CES, within three months I was off anxiety medication," Smith told Patient Daily. "The insomnia was also better, though not 100 percent."
The treatment is not covered by insurance in Canada, and Smith bought her device online from a U.S. firm. It cost $399 and, if she encounters any problems, she can receive full support at no cost from the company.
"It has just been very positive, going off anxiety medication, which was most of my medication," Smith said.
In 2017, Medicaid in Maine (MaineCare) became the first state Medicaid program to approve the device for full coverage.