April 3, 2014
A ‘Helmet’ to Help Depression
A wacky helmet that you love can do many things – make riding more fun, keep your head warm and safer, and even give passersby something to talk about. With no formalized research and only anecdote to go on, we’d say a Nutcase helmet can lift moods.
Now researchers at Copenhagen University (where else?) and the North Zealand Psychiatric Hospital have come up with a weird-looking helmet of electromagnetic pulses that effectively zap depression. Denmark consistently ranks as the world’s happiest country, yet statistics say ones in five Danes will suffer depression at some point in their lives.
Working from the idea that the regeneration of new blood vessels in depressed patients happens more slowly, researcher Steen Dissing experimented with magnets and electric pulses to accelerate brain activity.
The theory is that this pulsed electromagnetic activity affects the brain’s nerve centers, and acts like a system reset, prompting brain cells to return to normal communications. Lab trials, first on mice (tiny helmets?) and then with 65 clinically depressed patients, showed promising results – two-thirds of patients using the helmet 30 minutes per day showed marked improvement and a subset reported their depression completely lifted.
News of the trial results hit the mainstream press in Denmark two days ago, causing many readers to complain that the depression helmet was an April Fool’s joke. Dissing, however, has patented his depression helmet technology.