Treatment relieves depression with electrical stimulation

KING 5's Amanda Grace reports.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is being used for a number of different health problems, including depression with positive results. 

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is being used for treatment for a number of different health problems, including depression with positive results. 

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Unfortunately, medicine only can help half the time, so some people are getting relief in an unorthodox way.

“I’ve been depressed all my life. Crying a lot, suicide attempts, hospitalizations, medication after medication that didn’t seem to help,” said Kathryn Brokaw, a depression patient.

 A simple smile we take for granted has been almost impossible for Brokaw.

Then she experienced the transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS device and found relief.

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

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

Psychiatry professor Glenn Currier said TMS is an option for people who aren’t helped by medication. He said TMS works for around seven out of 10 patients.

“So instead of applying electricity to the whole brain, or whole body, we can target it to the area that controls mood. It can be quite life changing actually,” said Currier.

It’s not a one-time solution. TMS is usually administered about 40 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks. But Currier said 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,” said Currier.

Currier said some patients have to take antidepressants or have additional TMS treatments within the first year, but many don't.

TMS is also being studied to treat OCD, migraines and post-traumatic stress for veterans.

Copyright 2016 KING


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