New Hope To Fight Depression

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

August 4, 2005

Depression affects more than 18 million adults every year, reported the National Institute of Mental Heath, but a new study is finishing that could bring new hope for people battling depression.

It's called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and a study will determine if it can treat depression without medication or psychotherapy.

"This study is for patients with major depressive disorder who have been refractory to anti-depressant or medication therapy," said Dr. R.J. Canterbury, M.D. Principal Investigator. "People who have been on those medications and they've not helped or they've not been able to tolerate them."

It takes 37 minutes to perform and is non-invasive, nor-painful. In fact, Dr. Cantebury can set up a patient in the reclining chair in just a few minutes.

Patients have their head stabilized and a device releases magnetic waves into the brain about 1 inch deep.

Magnetic energy is released in short bursts, making a clicking sound, almost like a woodpecker. But only certain people are eligible.

"They don't have a medical condition that might contribute to the symptoms of depression and in fact that they have been on anti-depressant therapy in the past and that failed," said Dr. Cantebury.

"Usually they'll start seeing results within a week or so if they're going to see results," said Royanne Dell, Research Coordinator.

The only side effects are mild headaches and it is now pending FDA approval.

"Depending upon any restrictions that the FDA might put on the treatment. It might be available for people that don't want to take medications, but would rather have some other kind of intervention," said Dr. Cantebury.

The University of Virginia was one of 16 centers nationwide that performed the study.

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