New Cure for Heartbreak: A Headset That Zaps the Brain

Symptoms of love trauma syndrome reduced after electric stimulation treatments
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2024 7:00 AM CDT
New Cure for Heartbreak: A Headset That Zaps the Brain
A new study found that wearing transcranial direct-current stimulation headsets helped ease the symptoms of heartbreak.   (Getty / diego_cervo)

A new study suggests there may be a way to ease the pain of harrowing breakups, clinically known as love trauma syndrome (LTS), by zapping the brain with electric currents. The more technical term is transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), the Guardian reports, which involves wearing a headset that transmits electric pulses. Details from the study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research:

  • Researchers worked with 36 volunteers who were experiencing LTS and agreed to wear tDCS headsets for 20 minutes over five days.
  • The volunteers were split into three groups: two with electrical currents aimed at different parts of their brains, and a control group that had the headsets turned off.
  • The group with currents directed at the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex portion of the brain had the most prominent results, but all participants who were not in the control group had reduced symptoms of LTS, anxiety, and depression—and the positive results remained when researchers checked in with subjects a month after the treatments ended.

While many have experienced some form of heartbreak in their lives, LTS is very much real, with symptoms such as emotional distress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal ideation. The initial results on tDCS' potential impact on LTS symptoms has the study's authors, from Germany and Iran, contemplating what's next. "These promising results require replication in larger trials," they said. (Now infiltrating dating apps: Artificial intelligence.)

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