Electrotherapy: How CES Can Help With Anxiety

Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, or CES, is an FDA approved treatment method for anxiety, insomnia, and depression. In this article we'll uncover how to use CES for anxiety....


ces for anxiety
Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation, more commonly referred to as CES, is an FDA approved treatment method for anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
CES treatment is done using a small device that transmits pulsed, low-intensity current to the scalp and brain using electrodes connected to the earlobes or temples.
While you may be picturing something similar to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) which was used in the early days of psychiatric treatment, CES electrical current is minuscule in comparison.
In fact, most CES devices operate on a single 9-volt battery and can be used at home while doing ordinary tasks.
Below we will dive into the most commonly asked questions about CES and help provide you with a much clearer understanding of what it is and how it works.

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A Brief History of CES

Research for what is now called Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) began in the Soviet Union in the early 1950's.  Prior to that, electrical stimulation in the brain and body had been used in many different forms.
In the 1950's, CES research focused primarily on its use for insomnia and sleeping disorders. However, it's effectiveness for anxiety and depression quickly became apparent.
Use of CES devices began to spread as clinical studies began to prove it's ability to help those with anxiety and depression, with very few side effects. 
In 1979, the FDA granted approval for CES devices to be used for insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Today CES devices are used worldwide for everything from anxiety and depression to PTSD and pain management.

How Does CES Work?

A CES device sends pulsed, alternating microcurrent to the scalp and brain. Typically two electrodes are attached to the earlobes or temples and the user will lie down or sit for a 20-45 min session. This microcurrent enters the brain, calming and quieting the mind.
The exact nature as to how CES achieves its positive effects is still not fully understand.
However, based on scientific studies it is believed that CES helps balance neurotransmitters in the brain, promotes alpha brainwave patterns, promotes endorphin release and even deactivates parts of the brain that are responsible for excessive worry and over stimulation.
Through these perceived methods, Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation is able to help reduce anxiety and depression, promote a more relaxed state and reduce pain.

CES Frequencies

One of the most common terms you will hear around CES is frequency. Typically the two most popular frequencies used in CES devices are 0.5Hz and 100Hz. The majority of devices on the market will use one of those two frequencies. Many devices will offer the option to use either one. Some devices, like the Oasis Pro, offer both as well as multiple ranges in between the 2. Below is a brief description of both frequencies and their potential use.
  • 0.5Hz: the brainwave pattern of deep (or sub) Delta; primarily used to increase endorphins; good for depression and reducing pain
  • 100Hz: the most popular frequency for anxiety, stress, and better sleep; primarily used to increase serotonin in the brain; relaxes the mind and helps focus

Is CES Safe?

When you imagine electrical stimulation of the brain, images of psych wards with patients being shocked into convulsing states may come to mind.
Rest assured that CES is very far from Electroconvulsive Therapy or anything similar.
CES devices operate on a single 9-volt battery and provide 1/1000th the current of ECT.
These devices are safe enough to be used in your own home while sitting quietly or while doing other minor tasks.
CES has been proven safe through hundreds of clinical trials and has been approved by the FDA for anxiety and depression.

How To Use A CES Device

It's always best to follow the directions of the device manufacturer. However, for those completely new to CES, we will provide a basic guideline on how to use these devices. This can help to provide a better understanding of what the process is like and how often and for how long you should use it.
The info below is a generic guideline, methods and settings will be different depending on which device you are using.
  1. Get into a seated position
  2. It's generally advised to wet (or use an electrode gel) at the point of contact, such as the earlobes
  3. Attach the electrodes to the contact points
  4. Turn on the device and choose the session/frequency setting
  5. Start session
  6. Most devices automatically begin at the lowest possible intensity
  7. You can turn up the intensity if/when desired
  8. A very faint tingling may be felt at the correct intensity
  9. You should not feel any sensations of pain or discomfort (if you do the intensity is way too high)
  10. Most devices will auto shut off at the end of the session, if not turn off the device once finished
Session Lengths:
Most CES sessions range from 20 mins-1 hour. We generally recommend starting with 15-20 mins to see how CES works for you before committing to longer periods of time. Many people find a 20 min session per day or every other day optimal. Others may prefer a slightly longer session.
Using CES Long Term
CES devices are safe for daily long-term use with no known side effects. Most people will find positive benefits and release from many symptoms after their first few sessions so long term daily use is not usually necessary.
How often you need to use the device really depends on the severity of your symptoms and the relief that you want to achieve. Some will find they need to use the device daily while others may receive the best results only using 1-2 times per week.

Using CES for Anxiety

A CES device can help make significant improvements in anxiety. It can have an even more profound effect when used in conjunction with other support methods, like meditation, breathing exercises and proper nutrition and supplementation. 
CES has been proven especially effective for Generalized Anxiety and State Anxiety (dentist appointments, tests, doctor visit, etc). In fact, there are dentists that have begun using CES devices in their offices for those with anxiety. 
In a 6 week clinical study using participants with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the results were an average reduction in anxiety of 40.4%.

How to Purchase a CES Device

There are 2 classes of CES devices available to the general public:
  • FDA approved devices (requires a doctor's prescription): these include devices like Alpha-Stim and Fisher Wallace
  • Non-FDA approved devices (no prescription needed): these include devices such as Oasis Pro and CES Ultra
The FDA approved devices typically cost much more than their non-approved counterparts. It is possible to have your health insurance cover your FDA approved CES device but this would need to be something discussed with your doctor and health insurance provider. 
While the FDA approved devices are very well made and generally have more medical studies on record, there are some well made non-approved devices, such as the Oasis Pro which we do recommend as well.

We have partnered with Caputron, a trusted supplier for CES, tDCS and TMS devices, to bring our readers a discount for their purchase

Exclusively for our readers: Receive 5% off your order - simply use the coupon code below at checkout


You can use the links below to go directly to the website or the product pages for the Oasis Pro or the CES Ultra:

Caputron Home Page – caputron.com

Oasis Pro – caputron.com/products/oasis-pro-ces-device

CES Ultra – caputron.com/products/ces-ultra

You can learn more about the products mentioned in this article directly from the manufacturer's websites below:
Alpha-Stim: alpha-stim.com
Fisher Wallace: fisherwallace.com
Oasis Pro: mindalive.com
CES Ultra: cesultra.com

Precautions Before Using

If you are pregnant, have a history of seizures or have medical implants you should not use any CES device. In addition if you suffer from a severe psychiatric condition it is highly advised to get a professional opinion prior to starting a CES treatment.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions about how CES works, specific CES devices or anything else related to Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulatation – please leave your questions in the comments section below and we'll do our best to answer!


6 thoughts on “Electrotherapy: How CES Can Help With Anxiety”

    1. Hi Marie,

      That’s a good question. To be honest I’m not completely sure. I think it would be fine personally, but you may want to reach out to the manufacturer of the device that you are considering purchasing.

      CES devices send low-intensity current primarily through the nerves near the ear and into the brain. Whether those nerves reach into the teeth and/or what effect it would have on the teeth if you have a wire brace I’m not sure.

      Reaching out to the manufacturer would be your best bet. I don’t want to tell you it’s safe if there could be potential issues…

      Sorry I couldn’t provide a definitive answer. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      – Robert

    1. I’ve personally never tried combining the two but I don’t see why you couldn’t. Mind Alive makes a CES/Audio-Video Brainwave Entrainment combo. https://mindalive.com/collections/ces-devices/products/david-delight-pro

      I’ve never used it but that is similar to what you are referring to.

      The only issue I would see if you did use a standalone audio program and a standalone CES device would be having dissimilar frequencies. Meaning the audio program was in Alpha range while the CES was in the Delta range. As I mentioned I’ve never combined the two but that may be an issue or it may not, I’m not completely sure.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.


  1. For best results, is there a time that is best to use the CES,? First thing in the morning, night before bed or while going to sleep,does in not matter? Can you read or watch TV while using it.

    1. Hello Lori,

      The best time of day will depend on the unit you are using, the frequency (Hz) of your particular session and the purpose of the session.

      For instance, the Alpha-Stim CES device is FDA approved for insomnia along with anxiety and depression. So, if you were using it for insomnia you would use close to bedtime.

      The unit that I use is the Oasis Pro, which has several different frequency settings. The 2 most popular being 100 Hz (the most popular for sleep and anxiety) and 0.5-3 Hz (which is good for pain relief and increasing endorphins).

      I once contacted the owners of Oasis Pro and they recommended not using the 0.5-3Hz close to bedtime because it could cause problems falling asleep. I personally found the opposite to be the case, that particular range makes me drowsy while the 100 Hz range reduced anxiety without making me drowsy.

      In the end, it would probably be best to try out the different frequencies based on your needs and see how they affect you personally.

      Yes, you can read or watch TV while using it.


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