Novel treatment approaches
The Black Dog Institute is leading the way in testing novel treatments for common mental health disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, as either an alternative or an adjunct to existing medication and psychological treatments. A particular area of focus is the evaluation of evidence-based brain stimulation interventions as alternative treatments to medication.
For people who have not had success with traditional treatment approaches, such as medication, these trials offer the chance to determine if alternative, non-invasive treatments are effective. Novel treatment approaches such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Direct Current Stimulation (DCS) and the use of ketamine offer an alternative approach to traditional medications for common mental health disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain, mild form of brain stimulation providing a treatment option for people living with severe depression and other psychiatric disorders. TMS uses a magnetic field, generated by a simple coil placed on the head to stimulate a specific area of the brain. The patient is awake during treatment, with no impacts on memory and no other significant side effects.
Direct current stimulation (DCS)
Direct current stimulation (DCS) is another treatment for depression and bipolar disorder, offering a potential alternative to medication and electroconvulsive therapy. DCS is a very mild form of brain stimulation. The stimulation is short and continuous (for 30 minutes). It is painless and given while the person is awake.
Professor Colleen Loo is a pioneer in looking at the role of ketamine as a treatment for major depression, with enormous potential demonstrated thus far. Whilst ketamine is approved for use in anaesthesia, it has not received approval for use in depression. This is because there are still significant gaps in our knowledge about dosage levels, treatment protocols and the effectiveness and safety of long term use. In order to answer these important questions, Professor Loo and her team were awarded funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2015, which has allowed this important work into ketamine treatment to continue both nationally and in New Zealand.
Attachment-based treatment for adult separation anxiety disorder
This novel treatment program is based on attachment-related therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy and elements of positive psychology to both increase self-confidence and self-worth. This study specifically for adults is delivered within the Black Dog Clinic.
Sydney Neurostimulation Clinic (SyNC)
The Black Dog Institute is proud to house the Sydney Neurostimulation Clinic (SyNC), led by internationally respected psychiatrist and researcher Professor Colleen Loo. The Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation clinic (TMS) within SyNC provides treatment on a fee for service basis. TMS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders. A large body of research conducted worldwide and at our centre indicates that TMS has antidepressant effects when applied over the frontal areas of the brain. It is now an approved treatment for depression in Australia by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. The neurostimulation assessment clinic is also part of SyNC and offers a referral service providing a specialist assessment on the potential benefit to patients of brain stimulation treatments.