For the millions of people suffering from depression, but can't seem to get their brains unstuck from a downward spiral no matter what treatments they try, new hope is on the horizon.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)--a safe and noninvasive therapy using a rapidly changing magnetic field to stimulate neurons in the brain--is showing promising results in numerous peer-reviewed studies as a major breakthrough in treating depression in cases that are resistant to any other forms of treatment, including prescription drugs.
Currently, TMS isn't FDA approved. However, doctors are allowed to use it as an 'off-label' treatment. Last year, the FDA’s Neurological Devices Panel concluded that TMS treatment is safe, but requires further research to demonstrate efficacy.
TMS patients usually feel a tingling sensations on the scalp and have to wear ear plugs to block out the loud clicking noise from the magnetic pulse, but overall, it's not an uncomfortable experience. The treatments are administered daily for several weeks, although some people see results immediately.
People wanting to try TMS now can either participate in a clinical study or visit a private physician offering it off-label. Participating in a study usually doesn't cost anything. However, a 30-minute session with the latter option is estimated to cost about $300 and insurance usually doesn't cover it, at least for now.
In addition, TMS has also been found to help rehabilitate stroke patients. It is also being researched as a potential treatment for schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, migraine headaches, autism, mania, anxiety disorders and chronic neuropathic pain.
For more information about TMS, including how to participate in a clinical study, visit elata.org.