Magnetic pulses being used to treat depression

October 12, 2011 4:53:55 PM PDT
It's a new way to fight depression without the drugs, and for some people, it can eliminate depression for good. TMS involves the use of magnetic pulses.

"All of my relationships had suffered because of my depression," Mike Richards said.

Richards went from hopelessness to hope with a new depression treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. A magnet is placed on the left front portion of his brain which controls mood. It doesn't use electricity. It uses magnetic pulses to stimulate brain cells called neurons and cause them to release chemicals, and those chemicals can help someone feel better.

For 37 minutes, pulses go through his brain. He says there's no discomfort, just an occasional headache.

"I can get right up from here, go right back to my business, no problems," Richards said.

"It was almost like going back to when I was a teenager before I had problems," Lisa Golick said.

Golick says she lived under a black cloud for 37 years. Fifteen antidepressants didn't help until she had 6 weeks of TMS treatments.

"Not words to describe how bad it was and how much more improved my life has become as a result of the TMS," she said.

"We get them to a place and they're enjoying life, often times to ways I've never been able to get them with medication," psychiatrist Dr. Kimberly Cress said.

Dr. Cress says about half her TMS patients had a dramatic result and like Golick, have stayed in remission when treatments ended.

Richards credits TMS with improving his relationship with his wife who told him, "I have my husband back," even though he won't finish his eight weeks of treatments until next week.

TMS is expensive. It costs about $350 a treatment but insurance is beginning to cover it.

TMS is also being studied as a treatment for migraines, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia.

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