A new device to treat depressed people in Quebec

The results obtained by neuromodulation are impressive, according to psychiatrists and patients who have already undergone such treatments.

Nathalie Cordeau, for example, experienced major depression in 2008. She was hospitalized for a month and the usual treatments, such as antidepressants, did not work.

Before, it was like a dark, gray sky with little patches of blue sky. There was a lot of discouragement, sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, she says.

The transcranial stimulation device.

Photo: Screenshot – YouTube / CERVO Foundation

Her psychiatrist referred her to the Quebec Mental Health University Institute (IUSMQ). Nathalie Cordeau started her neuromodulation treatments there a year ago. She quickly saw the benefits.

Now it’s a blue sky, with small clouds. It’s really significant. I’m happy to get up, I have goals to do in my day. I will be more active, have more energy, resume activities that I had left aside, she illustrates.

Waiting list

The IUSMQ has only one device at the moment and the waiting period for this type of care can be up to eight months. The purchase of a second device, at a cost of $250,000, will make it possible to treat twice as many patients.

The facade of the CERVO pavilion of the Institut universitaire en santé maladie de Québec with posters identifying it as a vaccination centre.

The CERVO pavilion of the University Institute of Mental Health of Quebec (IUSMQ)

Photo : Radio-Canada / Guylaine Bussiere

The needs are great. Since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health problems have risen sharply across the country.

Seven out of ten health care workers in Quebec and elsewhere in the country say they have experienced a deterioration in their mental health in recent months. Half of Canadians say the same thing. It particularly affects the youngest and the most marginalized, mentions the federal Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos.


The treatments are non-invasive. The neuromodulation device emits low electrical currents to treat a specific part of the brain.

A small electrical current stimulates or inhibits the part of the brain that is believed to be involved in depression. The treatment lasts on average about twenty minutes. It does not cause pain or significant side effects, explains psychiatrist Sébastien Proulx.

The treatment protocol is about twenty consecutive sessions from Monday to Friday. Then, the patients follow maintenance treatments, in a decreasing way.

treat the soldiers

Quebec psychiatrist Mathieu Bilodeau specializes in the mental health follow-up of veterans. He and his team treat about half of the ex-servicemen in the province who need treatment, whether for depression or post-traumatic shock.

The doctor, in a jacket, speaks to the camera.

Quebec psychiatrist Mathieu Bilodeau also uses the device to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Photo: Screenshot – YouTube / CERVO Foundation

He also uses neuromodulation.

Within one to two weeks, one can see significant benefits, says Dr. Bilodeau.

Other potential uses

Researchers from the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale are conducting studies to determine if the device can be effective in treating other illnesses.

Our CERVO research center is interested in this new technology and is evaluating the possibility of benefiting other clienteles, such as people suffering from schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress or obsessive-compulsive disorders., illustrates the President and CEO of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, Michel Delamarre.

The neuromodulator can be purchased with a $ 250,000 donation from Bell to the CERVO Foundation.


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