Magnetic therapy becoming more popular for treating depression

February 6, 2012, Loyola University Health System

(Medical Xpress) -- A new magnetic therapy that treats major depression recently received a major boost when the government announced Medicare will cover the procedure in Illinois.

The treatment, called transcranial (TMS), sends short pulses of magnetic fields to the brain. TMS "is rapidly gaining momentum" said Dr. Murali Rao of Loyola University Medical Center, one of the first Chicago-area centers to offer TMS. There now are nearly 300 such centers in the United States.

At Loyola, about two-thirds of Rao's TMS patients so far report that their depression has significantly lessened or gone away completely.

Before receiving TMS, Nan Miller had failed nine and suffered increasingly severe cycles of depression over seven years. There were times when she couldn't get out of bed or eat. "I just wanted to die," she said. She had even tried electroconvulsive therapy (formerly known as electroshock) but did not want to consider that option anymore.

Miller said that a few weeks after beginning TMS treatments, she was eating lunch when she suddenly realized depression did not consume her anymore. "I could almost hear the chains breaking, the darkness lifting and the heaviness dissolving," she said. "I feel about 10 years younger and 20 shades lighter."

The approved TMS in 2009 for patients who have major depression and have failed at least one antidepressant. The FDA has approved one TMS system, NeuroStar®, made by Neuronetics.

The patient reclines in a comfortable padded chair. A magnetic coil, placed next to the left side of the head, sends short pulses of magnetic fields to the surface of the brain. This produces currents that stimulate brain cells. The currents, in turn, affect mood-regulatory circuits deeper in the brain. The resulting changes in the brain appear to be beneficial to patients who suffer depression.

Each treatment lasts 35 to 40 minutes. Patients typically undergo three treatments per week for four to six weeks.

The treatments do not require anesthesia or sedation. Afterward, a patient can immediately resume normal activities, including driving. Studies have found that patients do not experience memory loss or seizures. Side effects include mild headache or tingling in the scalp, which can be treated with Tylenol.

Together, psychotherapy and antidepressants successfully treat only about one-third of patients who suffer . TMS is a noninvasive treatment option now available for the other two-thirds of patients, who experience only partial relief from or no relief at all, Rao said.

Explore further: Magnetic fields prevent editor from talking (w/ video)

Related Stories

Magnetic fields prevent editor from talking (w/ video)

April 12, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- By holding an electromagnet close to a person’s skull, researchers can alter the neuron activity in the person’s brain. This technique, called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), can be used ...

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.