New Magnetic Stimulation Offers Noninvasive Treatment for Major Depression

Rush University Medical Center has opened the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Clinic to offer patients a safe, effective, non-drug treatment for major depression. TMS therapy is the first FDA-approved, non-invasive antidepressant device-based treatment clinically proven for treatment of depression.

Science Daily reports that psychiatrists at Rush University Medical Center were among the first to test the technique. Dr. Philip Janicak, professor of psychiatry and lead investigator at Rush for the clinical trials of TMS, helped develop the therapy.

The TMS therapy system delivers highly focused magnetic field pulses to a specific portion of the brain—the left prefrontal cortex—in order to stimulate the areas of the brain linked to depression. The repeated short bursts of magnetic energy introduced through the scalp excite neurons in the brain.

Depression affects at least 14 million American adults each year. Researchers estimate that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide. According to Janicak, drug treatment options can be ineffective or intolerable due to side effects. Current antidepressant therapies are not beneficial for at least a third of depressed individuals, leaving many with a lack of adequate treatment options.

“Patients receive treatment in an outpatient setting and are able to return to normal activities right away,” Janicak said. TMS therapy does not require anesthesia or sedation and patients remain awake and alert. It is a 40-minute outpatient procedure that is prescribed by a psychiatrist and administered daily for four-to-six weeks.

“TMS therapy is a safe and effective alternative for patients who suffer from major depressive disorder and are not getting satisfactory improvement from antidepressant medications,” Janicak said.

There is still hope.

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