Transcranial direct stimulation may help some patients with schizophrenia, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Although still considered an experimental therapy , direct brain stimulation (DBS) has been in practice for several years and has been tried out as a treatment for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety.

In the new study, transcranial stimulation was able to decrease auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia, and the effects lasted for up to 12 weeks. In addition, the treatment had a marked influence on some negative symptoms.

The researchers believe that one day patients may be able to use this treatment at home.

In this small study, the brains of patients with schizophrenia were stimulated in specific areas for about 20 minutes, twice a day for five consecutive days.  After five days, there was a significant lessening of auditory verbal hallucinations. The benefits of the treatment were still present at three months.

Unfortunately, no patient had complete recovery. The treatment had no effect on other symptoms of schizophrenia such as grandiosity, excitement or disorganization.

The researchers believe that perhaps those with schizophrenia who have symptoms that do not respond to medications may be candidates for transcranial direct stimulation.

Source: American Journal of Psychiatry