Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 95–101 | Cite as

Current Status of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Posttraumatic Stress and Other Anxiety Disorders

  • Benjamin M. Hampstead
  • Emily M. Briceño
  • Nathan Mascaro
  • Andoni Mourdoukoutas
  • Marom Bikson
Neuromodulation (S Taylor, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neuromodulation


Several empirically supported treatments have been identified for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet a sizable number of patients are either unable to tolerate these approaches or remain symptomatic following treatment. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a well-tolerated method of modulating neuronal excitability that may hold promise as a novel intervention in PTSD and related disorders. The current review summarizes literature on the disrupted neural circuitry in PTSD and discusses the rationale for the commonly targeted prefrontal cortex (PFC) as it relates to PTSD. We then review the few prior (case) studies that have evaluated tDCS in patients with PTSD (1 study) and other anxiety disorders (4 studies). There was considerable variability in both the methods/justification for selecting the targeted brain region(s) and the tDCS montage used, which obscured any clear trends in the data. Finally, we describe the rationale for our ongoing study that specifically targets the lateral temporal cortex as a method of treating the symptoms of hyperarousal and re-experiencing in PTSD. Overall, it is clear that additional work is needed to establish dosing (e.g., intensity and duration of sessions, number of sessions) and optimal treatment targets as well as to identify synergistic effects with existing treatments.


Transcranial direct current stimulation tDCS Posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD Anxiety Generalized anxiety disorder Panic disorder Obsessive compulsive disorder Brain stimulation Neuromodulation Functional neuroimaging 



This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH102539 to BMH).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Benjamin M. Hampstead, Emily M. Briceño, Nathan Mascaro, and Andoni Mourdoukoutas declare that they have no conflict of interest. Marom Bikson declares board membership for Soterix Medical Inc., outside of the submitted work. The contents of this manuscript do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the US Government.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin M. Hampstead
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emily M. Briceño
    • 2
  • Nathan Mascaro
    • 3
    • 4
  • Andoni Mourdoukoutas
    • 5
  • Marom Bikson
    • 5
  1. 1.Mental Health Service, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare SystemAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Neuropsychology Section, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Trauma Recovery Program, Atlanta VAMCDecaturUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical EngineeringThe City College of New York of CUNYNew YorkUSA

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