Fisher Wallace Stimulator Review: Does It Work?

By Anthony Dugarte, M.D., C.S.C.S
Published on: May 21, 2020

What is the Fisher Wallace Stimulator?

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is proposed to use a gentle electrical current to stimulate your brain to produce Serotonin in order to help address your anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Serotonin is a neurochemical that is involved in various components of your behavior such as mood, memory, fear, addiction, and sexuality. Because of these roles, low levels can negatively impact a wide array of factors associated with your health and well-being.

As serotonin is implicated in many disease processes, its receptors are often a target of psychiatric and neurologic medications. In addition to prescription drugs, group and individual therapy, as well as dietary supplements, are often used in managing conditions related to low serotonin levels.

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is another option. According to the website, you can expect the following with regular use of the device:

  • Improve symptoms related to depression
  • Improve symptoms related to anxiety
  • Improve symptoms related to insomnia
  • Stimulate serotonin production

The company states that the Fisher Wallace Stimulator is FDA cleared to treat your depression, anxiety, and insomnia and that you may notice the benefits in as little as 1-week of daily use.

As these conditions have the potential to negatively impact your life, finding relief without the unwanted effects of prescription medication can be advantageous.

In this article, we’ll help you determine if the Fisher Wallace Stimulator can live up to these claims by reviewing the available research for the proposed benefits.

Using Your Fisher Wallace Stimulator

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is alleged to improve depression, anxiety, and insomnia by administering about 1 – 4 mA of electricity through electrodes placed at your temples. According to the company, you may feel nothing at all or a slight tingling at the electrode sites.

If you do not have a medical device implanted in your head, neck, or heart, and you’re 21 years of age or older, you may be qualified to use the Fisher Wallace Stimulator.

Keep in mind that the FDA requires authorization from a licensed medical provider before you use the device. To receive authorization, speak with your doctor in person or schedule an $18 telemedicine visit with a provider through the company’s website.

When you’ve received the appropriate clearance, your Stimulator can be shipped.

Using your device is fairly straightforward if you pay careful consideration to the following steps:

  1. Ensure you place 2 AA batteries
  2. Plug one end of the wires into the device, and attach the electrode receptacles to the other end of the wires
  3. Submerge the sponge receptacles into a cup of water or run them under the faucet
  4. Ensure your headband is properly fitted
  5. Slide the sponge electrode underneath the headband and ensure that the bottom of the electrode is above the top of the ear
  6. Power on the device to level 2.
  7. Feel free to read, watch TV, or meditate during your session.
  8. After 20 minutes, the device will shut off automatically (with a beep). Rotate the dial clockwise into the “off” position.

According to the company, you should use the device at level 2, 20-minutes once or twice daily, for at least 2-weeks to determine if it is of benefit, though you may experience relief within the first week.

If your mood and sleep disturbances go into remission, you can use the device on an as-needed basis or 3-4 times weekly to maintain the results. Also, the company claims that the Stimulator can be safely used in conjunction with antidepressants and other medications.

Is There Any Science Behind the Fischer Wallace Stimulator?

The potential benefits of the Fisher Wallace Stimulator have been investigated in clinical research trials.

In 2015, 7 patients with bipolar depression were randomized to treatment with the Stimulator and compared to 9 who were treated with a phony device. The treatment group significantly improved scores on a validated depression survey, bodily pain, and cognitive function when compared to the control group after 2-weeks of daily use.

Also, there was no difference between groups regarding measured safety parameters such as drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, and headache.

A larger study examined the effects of the STimulator in patients admitted to a drug addiction facility. Nearly 100 patients received treatment with the stimulator for an average of 5 treatments; these patients were less likely to drop out of the program when compared to those who opted out of Stimulator treatment.

Keep in mind that as this study was not published in a reputable medical journal, it likely did not undergo the rigorous peer-review process that helps to ensure that the research methods used were sound.

Fortunately, similar cranial electrostimulation (CES) devices have been investigated in other settings. The results of these studies can help shed some more light on the potential effects of the Fisher Wallace Stimulator.

In the 90s, a review analyzed results from the 14 best trials available at that time. Researchers concluded that CES may be effective in the treatment of anxiety. They pointed towards the need for more blinded, randomized trials, as well as the importance of reporting complete data.

More recently, researchers set out to review the benefits and side effects of CES. They analyzed the results of 26 trials and found that most trials were limited in that they had small sample sizes, short durations, and biases related to inadequate blinding of subjects and research personnel.

Thus, the evidence is too insufficient to make recommendations for CES to help manage conditions like fibromyalgia, headache, muscle and joint pain, and insomnia. Researchers did note low-strength evidence demonstrating that CES may benefit those with anxiety and depression, however.

While studies examining the effects of the Fisher Wallace Stimulator specifically are promising, these results must be taken with a grain of salt. One study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, while the other included only 7 patients in the treatment group.

The larger analyses of the best available data point towards a possible benefit for the use of CES in anxiety and depression, though most of the data is insufficient to draw strong conclusions.

Is the Fisher Wallace Stimulator Safe?

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator uses a gentle electrical current that is likely safe for regular use, though there are a few things you must consider before use.

Those with implanted medical devices like nerve stimulators or pacemakers should avoid using the Fisher Wallace Stimulator as it may interfere with their ability to function properly.

The company also recommends avoiding the Stimulator if you have a heart condition or have reacted poorly electrical stimulation in the past. The company also mentions skin irritation as a possibility if electrodes are not sufficiently wet prior to placement.

The following side effects were reported in this review:

  • Worsened symptoms of depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Flashing lights
  • Tingling or itching of ears and temples
  • Scalp irritation
  • Dizziness

Depression, anxiety, and insomnia all have the potential to negatively impact your quality of life. As the research for the Fisher Wallace Stimulator is not compelling, at best, it may be part of being ore comprehensive treatment plan.

For these reasons, you should include your doctor in your management plan.

The Cost

Once you’ve received the appropriate authorization, you can purchase the Fisher Wallace Stimulator directly from the website.

There is currently a $300 discount + free shipping promotion, so the Stimulator is priced at $499. The kit includes:

  • Fisher Wallace Stimulator
  • An Electrode Headset
  • A Velcro Headband
  • 6 Sponges
  • A Carrying Case
  • The Instruction Manual

You also have the option to finance your Stimulator through Klarna. You can determine your eligibility for this plan on the purchase page in about 60-seconds. If approved, you can pay as little as $84 per month.

Replacement products like sponges, headbands, and lead wires are also available for purchase. Prices range from $24-$48.

While they recommend 2-weeks of daily use to determine efficacy, the company actually provides a full 30-days for you to trial your Stimulator. If unsatisfied, contact support for your free return shipping label or any other inquiries.

What Are the Alternatives to the Fisher Wallace Stimulator?

There are other CES devices currently available similar to the Fisher Wallace Stimulator. You’re required to first obtain an order or prescription by a licensed healthcare provider.

Alpha-Stim is one example. Their device alleges to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain. The company claims that there’s a chance your insurance may provide some coverage, though out of pocket costs will range from $800-$2,000 in the event that you’re not covered.

As the Fisher Wallace Stimulator requires a purchase authorization or prescription from a licensed medical provider, it is not sold on Amazon. However, the company does offer the Circadia. At $499, it is designed to clone the CES technology used by the Fisher Wallace Stimulator, though it is intended for sleep and stress management only.

Given the price point and lack of strong support, these options are probably not that appealing. Even if these devices are effective, they are probably best used in conjunction with other forms of medical management.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • FDA cleared and requires a telehealth or in-person visit for authorization to purchase
  • Some low-level evidence demonstrates a potential benefit in managing depression and anxiety
  • Favorable return policy
Cons
  • Most of the available research is insufficient to draw strong conclusions
  • Expensive
  • Unlikely to be effective alone, so working with your doctor to determine a comprehensive plan is essential

The Bottom Line

The Fisher Wallace Stimulator and other CES devices lack strong clinical support for the proposed benefits. There may be a possible benefit for depression and anxiety, however.

These devices are typically safe, though individuals with implanted medical devices should avoid use. Also, remember that the Stimulator requires telehealth or in-person visit with a licensed provider for purchase authorization.

Depression, anxiety, and insomnia are complex conditions that often involve multiple forms of treatment. All can be dangerous if management is delayed.

Thus, it is unlikely that the use of the Stimulator alone can offer long-lasting relief. Speak with your doctor about your symptoms to determine the safest and most effective means of care.

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