Can a Laser Cure Depression?

Dr. Henderson explains that depression is a degenerative process that kills neurons and destroys parts of the brain. The laser treatments he performs uses a laser with infrared light that penetrates through the scalp and skull and reaches into areas of the brain. It activates the production of energy and turns on secondary messenger systems in the brain that cause repair and rebuilding.

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra asks how it compares to magnet therapy, and Dr. Henderson says magnet therapy has a response rate of about 50% but a recent study said it may not even be as good as that compared to placebos. There are also side effects associated with it.

Dr. Henderson’s studies of the laser treatment followed patients with traumatic brain injury who also had depression. Within eight weeks, all patients were symptom-free. The study continued to follow patients for seven years and they all remained that way.

Dr. Henderson shares the story of a patient with severe depression who described her suicidal thoughts and feelings as being "stuck in a black hole.” She was treated with the laser four years ago and today is only on a small amount of antidepressant medication. Her mother recently passed away and she told Dr. Henderson that while she was sad, she didn’t fall back into that black hole.

Psychotherapist Dr. Mike Dow sits with Dr. Henderson and shares how exciting he finds this technology. He says it's especially great for people who have failed cognitive behavior therapy and have been nonresponsive to antidepressant medications.

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