Alpha Stim
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Q:  Alpha Stim

My doctor has prescribed the Alpha Stim for me.  What are your thoughts on this,i.e effectiveness, long term, better for anxiety, bipolar, depression or all of these?

I would appreciate an answer as, to date, I am still bouncing and seem to be medicine resistant. Thank you for your time.

Dear Ms. H.-
My patients understand that questions like this are likely to make my knee jerk: I go off on my soapbox-rant about using treatments that have some evidence for their efficacy. This soapbox includes a comparison against a "placebo" control condition, because our brains are so remarkable: just managing to convince someone that a treatment is likely to help them is commonly extremely helpful. Response to placebo in the treatment of depression is usually around 25-30%. The us, to know that a proposed treatment is truly better than that, one would have to test it against a placebo.

To my knowledge, there is no such study of "alpha stim". I just looked on their website, where you would think they would want to post any such studies right away, if any such existed. There is a link to their research study page. As you will see, there are no randomized trials (in which patients are randomly assigned to either active treatment or a placebo) of this treatment for patients with mood problems. I did learn something interesting: in the review by Dr. Kirsch, he describes a randomized trial for the treatment of pain from fibromyalgia. Here is a
link to that study. Interestingly, sleep improved a lot. So, there are reasons to think that this treatment might have some value. We just don't have much direct evidence yet. Your doctor probably has quite a bit of experience with it and is going on that basis. I hope it proves to be effective for you in both the short and long term.

Dr. Phelps


Published April, 2007

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