Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder be treated with Xenon Gas?

Posted: November 30th, 2014


McLean Hospital researchers are reporting that xenon gas, used in humans for anesthesia and diagnostic imaging, has the potential to be a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other memory-related disorders.

“In our study, we found that xenon gas has the capability of reducing memories of traumatic events,” said Edward G. Meloni, PhD, assistant psychologist at McLean Hospital and an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “It’s an exciting breakthrough, as this has the potential to be a new treatment for individuals suffering from PTSD.”

In the study, published in the a recent issue of PLOS ONE, Meloni, and Marc J. Kaufman, PhD, director of the McLean Hospital Translational Imaging Laboratory, examined whether a low concentration of xenon gas could interfere with a process called reconsolidation – a state in which reactivated memories become susceptible to modification. "We know from previous research that each time an emotional memory is recalled, the brain actually restores it as if it were a new memory. With this knowledge, we decided to see whether we could alter the process by introducing xenon gas immediately after a fear memory was reactivated,” explained Meloni.


It’s the People that Make MGH/McLean a Great Place to Train

Posted: November 25th, 2014

A New Video Series

Posted: November 18th, 2014

Here at MGH/McLean, we understand that perusing the wealth of information listed on our website can be somewhat overwhelming and even tiresome at times. Well fear no more, we have created 9 new videos to provide an overview of the program's many components. Each video will be released here over the coming weeks, beginning with a warm welcome from our program directors and faculty (featured above).

Remember to check back every Tuesday to view the latest video release! If you just can't wait, click here to view all of the new MGH/McLean Psychiatry Residency Program videos.

Novel Treatment of Depression Shows Immediate Results

Posted: November 1st, 2014

Michael Rohan, a physicist at McLean Hospital’s Brain Imaging Center, demonstrated the low-field magnetic stimulation (LFMS) device he developed.

Individuals with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder who receive low-field magnetic stimulation (LFMS) show immediate and substantial mood improvement, McLean Hospital researchers report in the Aug. 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

“LFMS is unlike any current treatment. It uses magnetic fields that are a fraction of the strength but at a higher frequency than the electromagnetic fields used in TMS [transcranial magnetic stimulation] and ECT [electroconvulsive therapy],” explained first author Harvard Medical School.

According to Rohan, although other brain stimulation treatments like ECT and TMS are often effective for the treatment of depression, they typically take longer to impact mood, and ECT is associated with side effects such as memory loss. Similarly, while antidepressant medications can be highly effective for treating depression, it can take between four to six weeks before mood changes are detected.

“Importantly, LFMS appears to have an immediate effect on mood and thus has the potential to provide relief in emergency situations,” explained Rohan, who first reported the potential use of LFMS to treat depression in a groundbreaking study in 2004. “In addition to providing quick relief from symptoms, the other exciting piece about LFMS is that no side effects have been observed.”