SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) Doctors say most patients suffering from depression respond well to psychotherapy and medication, but there are some who are treatment resistant. There is new hope for them in the form of a new therapy that uses magnetic stimulation of the brain.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation uses an MRI strength magnet to deliver a magnetic field into the part of the brain known as the left prefrontal cortex. Dr. Howard R. Weeks from the University Of Utah Department of Psychiatry says “the magnetic field induces an electrical current in the brain that helps release neurochemicals in the brain that alleviate depression.” Dr. Weeks says it is effective for patients who have not responded to medication or those who experience side effects and cannot tolerate antidepressants.
Dr. Weeks says there are usually thirty sessions that last about forty-five minutes during which a patient is fitted with the magnetic device. “It’s non-invasive, you are awake, you are not requiring general anesthesia, you an come in have the treatment and you can drive yourself home and go back to work.” He says the only side effect is a little scalp irritation where the magnetic is placed, and occasionally a headache.
TMS therapy eventually regulates neuro-pathways, according to Dr. Weeks, and the release of chemicals continues in the brain keeping depression in check for up to a year or more.
Dr. Weeks says the new treatment is about sixty-percent effective. He maintains that all depression is treatable and sometimes it is just a matter of finding the appropriate therapy. He says it’s important for people battling depression to realize there is always hope of living without the disease. “That’s one of the really hard things with depression. Not only does the illness make you feel bad, sometimes you can’t think very well. Sometimes it’s hard for you to think that things are every going to change.” He says TMS is just another tool to bring that change into the lives of those living with depression.