The investigators aim to use a CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulation) intervention to improve emotional well-being by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and to assess for changes in markers of cellular health - specifically, telomere length and telomerase activity
The Effect of Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation on Emotional and Cellular Wellbeing
This study aims to test an auricular cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) device, Alpha-Stim, to assess for changes in markers of cellular health and emotional well-being improvement associated with anxiety and depression.
Returning Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Veterans have a high incidence of anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain, leading to reductions in emotional well-being. This type of chronic emotional distress can lead to detrimental biological outcomes. We will compare as an exploratory outcome Veterans vs. non-Veterans response to Alpha-Stim treatment. At the cellular level, impairment of the telomere/telomerase system may be a result of this dysregulation, given the descriptions of shorter telomeres (a marker of cellular aging), as well as increased markers of inflammation in subjects with depression, anxiety and PTSD, compared to aged matched healthy populations. These negative cellular effects of emotional distress have not been well studied in this population and may offer significant benefit.
In one study of auricular CES using the same protocol proposed here, 115 patients with anxiety or anxiety and comorbid depression were studied over 5 weeks in a randomized, sham controlled trial, showing significant improvements in both anxiety and depression symptoms. Due to the complexity of overlapping negative affect symptoms that lead to impaired emotional well-being in Veterans, the investigators chose in this proposal to evaluate a composite measure of emotional distress (a combined anxiety and depression score) as the primary outcome. Beyond depression and anxiety, CES has been associated with reductions in insomnia and pain, both of which are also significant problems in Veterans, likely contributing to reduced emotional well-being.
Primarily all interested and appropriate study subjects will undergo a screening at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience (CNSR). The investigators expect to enroll and screen no less than 55 subjects in order to complete 22 evaluable subjects for analysis in each treatment group.
The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) will assess symptom severity defined as normal range (0-7), mild (8-10), moderate (11-14) or severe (15-20). Subjects with impaired emotional well-being with mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression on the HADS scale will be included. Subjects with a maximum combined HADS score of 28 will be included. Subjects treated for anxiety, depression, psychiatric or mental health treatment must be on a stable regimen (pharmacological or non-pharmacological) for the past 3 months.
If eligible the study coordinator will contact them to schedule a screening visit at UCLA. During this visit, the research team will conduct baseline measurements via study questionnaires, history and physical exam, and a standardized psychiatric evaluation (MINI). Subjects meeting the inclusion criteria will have training in use of the Alpha-Stim device and will have their first 1 hour treatment. Subjects who tolerate the CES treatment will have blood drawn for biological measures and will take the device home to use daily for 8 weeks. Mid-study the subjects will come back to UCLA to complete questionnaires and have vital signs and weight measured. At the end of the 8 weeks, subjects will return to UCLA, return the device, have vital signs and weight measured, have the final blood draw, and complete a final set of questionnaires.
All in all, to complete the study, subjects will have an initial screening, mid and final study visit, pre, mid, and final study questionnaires, and blood drawn in the first and final visit.
AnxietyDepressionAlpha-Stim ActiveAlpha-Stim InactiveInactive
You can join if…
Open to males ages 18-40
- Within the age range of 18-40 years old
- Score 8-14 on either the anxiety or depression HADS scale as defined as mild (8-10) to moderate (11-14)
- Subjects who receive anxiety, depression, psychiatric or mental health treatment (pharmacological or non-pharmacological) must be on a stable regimen for the past 3 months
- No active suicidal ideation or psychosis (including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder)
- No uncontrolled or progressive severe medical illness (e.g., cancer, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, active cardiac disease)
- No use of a pacemaker or any other implanted electrical device
- No alcohol consumption greater than 2 units daily
- Ability to independently complete the in-person study questionnaires and sign informed consent form (ICF) without assistance
- . Willing to comply with all study procedures and be available for the duration of the study
- . No participation in another clinical trial study
You CAN'T join if...
- Not a male
- Younger than 18 years old or older than 40 years old
- Score ≥15 on either the anxiety or depression HADS scale as defined as severe (15-20)
- Subject who receive anxiety, depression, psychiatric or mental health treatment (pharmacological or non-pharmacological) who have not been on a stable regimen for the past 3 months
- Active suicidal ideation or psychosis (including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder)
- History of inpatient treatment or suicidal ideation within the last year
- Use of a pacemaker or any other implanted electrical device
- Unable to independently complete the in-person study questionnaires and sign ICF due to impaired cognitive function
- Unwilling to comply with all study procedures
- . Unavailable for the duration of the study
- . Current participation in another clinical trial study
- . Any other condition that the investigator believes would jeopardize the safety or rights of the subject or would render the subject unable to comply with the study protocol or make use of acquired data non-analyzable
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
accepting new patients
Los AngelesCalifornia90025United States
Lead Scientist at UC Health
- Kirsten Tillisch (ucla)
- accepting new patients
- Start Date
- Completion Date
- University of California, Los Angeles
- Study Type
- Last Updated