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Healthwatch: Depression TMS

Chelly Boutott |  July 7, 2016

Copyright© 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Unfortunately, medicine only can help half the time. But some people are getting relief in an unorthodox way.

Kathryn Brokaw said, “I’ve been depressed all my life.”

Simple for you, but smiling has been almost impossible for Kathryn.

“Crying a lot, suicide attempts, hospitalizations, medication after medication after medication after medication that didn’t seem to help,” she told Ivanhoe.

Officially called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or tmS, is doing for Kathryn what nothing else has.

“It’s the best thing that’s happened since sliced bread,” Kathryn said.

TmS turns magnetic waves into mild electrical current, stimulating inactive areas in the brains of people with depression.

Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at the University of South Florida, Glenn Currier, MD, MPH, said, “So instead of applying electricity to the whole brain, or whole body, we can target it to the area that controls mood.”

Currier says tmS is an option for people who aren’t helped by medication. He says tmS works for around seven out of 10 patients. Some may relapse, but…

“It can be quite life changing actually,” Currier told Ivanhoe.

It’s not a one-time solution. TmS is usually administered about 40 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks. But Doctor Currier says it’s one of the safest and most well-tolerated treatments for depression.

“If it gets to the point where you can’t function and it’s really getting in the way of your day to day life, we tell people you do not need to walk the world in that state, there are alternatives to that.”

And for Kathryn, that alternative is tmS.

“I can enjoy things and I can actually say that I am happy,” she said.

Doctor Currier says some patients have to take antidepressants or do another tmS treatment within the first year, but many don’t need any more treatment. TmS is also being studied to treat OCD, migraines and post-traumatic stress for veterans.

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