• drclarealb

What is CES: Cranial Electrical Stimulation Therapy?

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

Don’t be intimidated by Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, this is a non-invasive, drug free way to work with different psychological symptoms. There are around 16 million people in the United States that have experienced at least one depressive episode and roughly 40 million people in the United States deal with sometime of anxiety.



CES devices have been incredibly successful helping people with PTSD and other people who rely on heavy benzodiazepines for anxiety and depression. Trauma is something very real, and this is a great coping mechanism.


What is Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation?


This a noninvasive therapeutic device that is used on clients, once the device is hooked up to the ear lobes, the device sends out pulsed microcurrents. When the device is attached the user turns it on for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your physician’s advice. The device does not need to be directly plugged in while in use as it runs off battery power and can be re-charged. This is a device that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. In the year 1979 CES was approved for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and depression.


This is a tool that is used in a professional setting as well as a personal setting. There are numerous studies that claim that the Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation device is effective for things such as, headaches, fibromyalgia, drug withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, smoking cessation, and in some cases pain control.


Brain stimulation is a great way to improve the efficiency of psychological treatments. It helps with these symptoms because the pulsations of the CES increase the cerebral fluid and the levels of serotonin being released into the bodies system. Serotonin is an adrenocotricopic hormone that plays a big role in psychological disorders. Serotonin and dopamine are known as the “happy” hormones.





Using a CES machine is a great way to heal, its benefits outweigh its risks. Anxiety and other disorders that need treatment with medication are not a good long-term option for the body or the brain. The CES machine is not an addictive medication, it is a tool that works directly with the current of the brain.


What are the Possible Side effects of Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation?


Many studies have been performed on the efficiency of CES and the possible effects it has on the brain. As of right now there are no known contradictions when it comes to the use of CES and the side effects are very rare. If someone gets side effects, they are temporary and have found to be very minor. The most common side effects are:

· Skin irritation (from the way the device sits)

· Headaches

· Vertigo


Many people will use the CES before bed or early in the morning and they are able to walk around while the device is being used. It does not impair you from your daily or nightly routine. If you do have any of these side effects that should last for a very short period of time and the settings on the device can always be adjusted.


CES Statistics:


There has been many studies and surveys of patients who have used the device.

There are many different published research articles on this device since its creation in the 1970’s. These academic studies have spanned over forty years and there are around 20 double-blind placebo-controlled studies that have proven that the benefits of using CES outweigh any risks.


· In one case patients reported a difference in mood and lessened PTSD effects when using the CES (100-500 ma) for 20 to 60 minutes per day. These patients were using the device between three to five days a week when they saw optimal changes in mood.

· During an online survey, researchers worked with 145 active military members. They found that 60 percent of these individuals were using the device for PTSD symptoms and 20% of these people were not using any other type of drug or pharmaceutical in addition to this device. Out of all the participants in this online survey 25 percent of these people reported a reduction in symptoms. In this case members were using the device one to two times a day for a minimum of 20 minutes with an electro currency of 100 to 600 ma.

· Overall, patients reported a difference in their sleep patterns and reduced symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawals when using the device for 20 minutes a day, twice a day. They started with an electro current of 2ma but some moved up to 4ma to see better improvements.

· When the device was tested during an EEG reports showed that it decreased delta waves and increased the alpha waves that are normally associated with meditation and the first stages of sleep. This change in brain wave means that you will feel a calm energy or a sense of wellbeing.


How Can you get a CES Device?


CES devices are extremely expensive and some of the lower costs are around $300-$800. This is a type of treatment that needs to be supervised and in some cases a prescription can be written for a CES device.


There are some insurances who will help cover the cost of the device and other insurances who won’t. Many veterans are eligible for these devices and can have them covered by their local VA department, but this varies from place to place.


Talk to your provider about what device is right for you and exactly what settings to use. Many people say that they don’t regret buying it out of pocket, that it pays for itself in the benefits it brings to your body and your mind.


CES & Therapy


CES is a great addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (a therapy based on re-structuring one’s thoughts and identifying negative and harmful thoughts) and medications for anxiety disorders. Some people can use this device without medication and learn different CBT techniques to help them cope with their stressors, anxiety, and depression. Other people will use this in conjunction with medication and therapy, there is a balance. It might take time to find the right balance and treatment plan, but it is worth the effort!


The device has been used in counseling practices for many years and it is gaining more and more popularity. Many providers have reported clients having positive reactions when using CES, and actually using this as an adjunct to their medication. People who suffer from PTSD and drug withdrawal are shown to have better cognitive function after using the device. The amount of people and conditions this can help is countless! (If you are trying to come off a medication or you are trying to change your routine do this under the supervision of your medical doctor).


When people think of Cranial Electrotherapy, they may be plagued with images of a 20th century mental asylum. It is something that is often confused with electro-shock therapy. It was a scary and brutal way to control mental patients in a time long ago. This type of electrotherapy works with very low waves and it is not performed under any type of anesthesia like the old electroshock therapy was.

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©2020 BY DR. CLARE ALBRIGHT, PSY.D., CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST - CA  LICENSE PSY11660