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Can’t Conquer Depression? How Magnets Can Help

By Dr. Phil Kronk, USA Today Network – Tennessee | Apr 21, 2017

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Most people with depression feel better with treatment. But about 30 percent can’t seem to shake off their depression. This is especially true if you respond poorly — or don’t respond at all — to antidepressants.

For those with treatment-resistant depression, a noninvasive treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) offers hope.

This relatively new option can bring relief when other treatments for depression fail, says psychiatrist Murat Altinay, MD.

How TMS works

TMS uses a magnetic field — similar to that used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — to stimulate the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays a key role in mood.

Increasing the activity of neurons in this area lessens depression, Dr. Altinay explains. Having your brain stimulated by a magnetic field may sound a bit scary, but the experience isn’t painful.

“The typical TMS session lasts about 30 to 40 minutes,” he says. “During the session, patients are fully awake and sitting in a comfortable chair.”

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