Depression has long been treated by dangerous drugs that often give the patient side effects worse than the condition. However research into new magnetic pulse therapy has proven to alleviate symptoms in over a third of patients tested.
The treatment, NeuroStar TMS Therapy, uses magnetic pulses beamed through the skull. The pulses trigger small electrical charges that cause activity in the brain. The tests, conducted by the a team at the University of California, found that 58 percent achieved a positive response while 37 percent went into remission.
Dr Ian Cook, research leader for the project said, “The improvements we observed show that non-drug therapy with NeuroStar TMS not only reduces the symptomatic suffering of patients, but lessens the disability of depression with important implications for these individuals’ ability to return to functioning effectively at home, in the workplace, and in the community.”
Whereas antidepressant drugs are released into the bloodstream and have various physiological side effects, the magnetic pulse therapy does not. It beams a pulsed magnetic field an inch under the scalp into the prefrontal cortex, the ante cingulated cortex and the limbic system. These are the three areas of the brain that have been associated with mood, and therefore depression. The very small currents induced in the brain stimulate neurons where there is a deficiency in activity, and this in turn gives relief from depression.
Real hope in the drug free fight against depression
TMS therapy is a step forward in the approach to depression and mental illness in the UK. The standard treatment for depression is antidepressants or more recently MBCT (Mindful Based Cognitive Therapy). Often people with depression have very little connection with nature, have financial issues, poor diet, or high stress levels either through work or family life. People with depression often feel an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and lack of control. Often the effects of drugs is to mask the effect, to make them feel better without dealing with the core issues of the illness. This magnetic therapy could be seen as a replacement to drugs as it gives relief from the symptoms but not the cause. By combining the new TMS therapy with MBCT, there really is hope for sufferers.
MBCT helps the sufferer long term to deal with feelings and causes of depression, and to give them control back over their own minds and eventually their lives. MBCT takes time to work however and short term relief from the debilitating feelings of depression is often needed by the patient. TMS gives the opportunity for patients to stay drug free and in control while they get their lives back on track.