Around 50% of people with dementia suffer from symptoms of depression including lasting sadness, sleep disorders, nervous restlessness, aggressiveness, frequent crying and reduced interest in the world around them. Symptoms of depression can often start before memory begins to noticeably decline, and when the individual is formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, many become further affected by their outlook from there.
Whereas multiple studies have shown TPS to be significantly effective in the improvement of memory and verbal communication, this randomized, sham-controlled and double-blind study published by the Medical University of Vienna has now also examined the effect of transcranial pulse stimulation (TPS) with regard to depression in Alzheimer’s patients.
The study involved treating 18 Alzheimer’s patients who had also been diagnosed with depression using TPS therapy. Depression symptoms were measured before and after the intervention with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a widely used measure of depression. They also investigated functional connectivity changes using fMRI scans.
Patients received treatment for four weeks, with three TPS treatments per week.
On average, the BDI score was 7.36 at baseline and 5.00 in the post-stimulation session. Comparison between both sessions using the non-parametric Wilcoxon test revealed a significant improvement of depressive symptoms after TPS interventions. They also found that functional connectivity pathways associated with depression in the patients was disrupted by the treatments, providing a possible physiological explanation for the improvement in depression symptoms.