New treatment for adolescent depression recognised with Monash Health Award

A collaborative project between Monash Health and Monash University to improve outcomes for adolescents with depression won the ‘Excellence in Supporting the Mental health and Well-Being of Victorians’ Monash Health Award last week.

The pilot project involved Monash University’s Associate Professor Glenn MelvinCentre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology, Associate Professor Michael Gordon, Unit Head, ELMHS and Chris Pavlou, discipline senior, ELMHS.

The study aimed to determine if transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an effective treatment for adolescent depression.

“TMS is a non-invasive means of stimulating nerve cells in superficial areas of the brain by lightly applying a magnetic coil to the side of the head in an awake patient,” Associate Professor Melvin said.

“Patients receive a high intensity magnetic field over the left or right dorsolateral frontal area, a part of the brain that has been implicated in the aetiology of depression.”

Associate Professor Melvin said five per cent of Australian teenagers experience major depressive disorder (MDD), however, only about half respond to an evidence-based treatment.”

“Of those who go into remission, 50 per cent will relapse in the following five years—hence, novel treatments are required to address this unmet need,” he said.

The Monash pilot study offered 14 adolescents (13 to 18 years) a 20 treatment program of TMS randomised to either the right or left side of the head to determine if, treatment was effective in reducing depressive symptoms.

There was a statistically significant improvement in the adolescent’s depression score on the clinician-rated Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS-R) across all time points compared to baseline, meaning that adolescents reported substantial improvements in their depressive symptoms,” Associate Professor Melvin said.