Brain Stimulation May Help Depression

CHARLESTON, S.C., May 4 (UPI) — A U.S. study suggests repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy can produce significant antidepressant effects in some people.

The National Institutes of Health-funded researchers said they showed some depressed patients who don’t respond to or tolerate antidepressant medications might benefit from the non-invasive therapy.


The scientists, led by Dr. Mark George of the Medical University of South Carolina said the treatment is designed to activate underactive mood-regulating brain circuitry by targeting the top left front part of the brain with an electromagnetic coil that emits 3,000 pulses over a 37-minute session, researchers said. It can be safely administered in a doctor’s office with few side effects — unlike more invasive brain stimulation treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy.

The treatment accounted for remissions in 14 percent of antidepressant-resistant patients actively treated, with few side effects. That compared to about 5 percent for a simulated treatment, the scientists said.

“This study should help settle the debate about whether rTMS works for depression,” said George. “We can now follow up clues suggesting ways to improve its effectiveness, and hopefully further develop a potential new class of stimulation treatments for other brain disorders.”

The study that included Harold Sackeim of Columbia University and Drs. David Avery of the University of Washington, Sarah Lisanby of Columbia University and William McDonald of Emory University appears in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

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