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Magnetic pulses draw good reviews from doctors treating depression

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Apr 11

When the darkness lifted in Nan Miller’s mind, she realized the new therapy for her depression was finally working.

Transcranial magnetic therapy, which was approved by the FDA for use with the NeuroStar TMS therapy system in 2008, has been a lifeline to scores of other patients, who could not shake their depression despite multiple rounds of antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications or even electroconvulsive therapy.

In the therapy, a device delivers small electric pulses to nerve cells in the emotional regulation centers of the brain through a wire coil wrapped around the patient’s head. The patient sits relaxing in a comfortable chair for the roughly 37-minute treatment, which is repeated for 20-30 sessions over four to six weeks. Side effects include tingling of the scalp and headache.

Miller, 61, had tried about 10 antidepressants over the years and although some helped, she continued to feel terrible. She also tried ECT but did not want to repeat that treatment because it requires sedation, induces seizures and can cause some memory loss. But with thoughts of suicide, she knew she needed help.

After only a few weeks of therapy, she felt better. Her husband has noticed the difference too.

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Janice Neumann, Chicago Tribune