Tolerance of transcranial direct current stimulation in psychiatric disorders: An analysis of 2000+ sessions

Harleen Chhabra, Anushree Bose, Venkataram Shivakumar, Sri Mahavir Agarwal, Vanteemar S. Sreeraj, Sonia Shenoy, Nandita Hazari, Damodharan Dinakaran, Rujuta Parlikar, Vinayak Koparde, Vinutha Ramesh, Jitendriya Biswal, Venkatachalam Murugaraja, Shayanth Manche Gowda, Prabhat K. Chand, Palanimuthu T. Sivakumar, Sunil V. Kalmady, Janardhanan C. Narayanaswamy, Pratima Murthy, Satish C. GirimajiGanesan Venkatasubramanian

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive, neuromodulatory technique, is being increasingly applied to several psychiatric disorders. In this study, we describe the side-effect profile of repeated tDCS sessions (N = 2005) that were administered to 171 patients (156 adults and 15 adolescents) with different psychiatric disorders [schizophrenia [N = 109], obsessive-compulsive disorder [N = 28], alcohol dependence syndrome [N = 13], mild cognitive impairment [N = 10], depression [N = 6], dementia [N = 2] and other disorders [N = 3]]. tDCS was administered at a constant current strength of 2 mA with additional ramp-up and ramp-down phase of 20 s each at the beginning and end of the session, respectively. Other tDCS protocol parameters were: schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder: 5-days of twice-daily 20-min sessions with an inter-session interval of 3-h; Mild cognitive impairment/dementia and alcohol dependence syndrome: at least 5-days of once-daily 20-min session; Depression: 10-days of once-daily 30 min session. At the end of each tDCS session, any adverse event observed by the administrator and/or reported by the patient was systematically assessed using a comprehensive questionnaire. The commonly reported adverse events during tDCS included burning sensations (16.2%), skin redness (12.3%), scalp pain (10.1%), itching (6.7%), and tingling (6.3%). Most of the adverse events were noted to be mild, transient and well-tolerated. In summary, our observations suggest that tDCS is a safe mode for therapeutic non-invasive neuromodulation in psychiatric disorders in adults as well as the adolescent population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112744
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - 02-2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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