New hope for people suffering from depression

October 22, 2008 10:12:48 PM PDT
The FDA has now approved Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS. It was tested in Philadelphia by researchers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

It works by delivering magnetic impulses to the part of the brain that's linked to depression. Dr. John O'Reardon said in clinical trials, the therapy has proven to work two- to three-times better than placebo.

TMS is for patients who've tried anti-depressive drugs but saw no relief.

Steve, who asks we don't reveal his last name, said after 20 years of fighting depression, he's finally getting relief. He tried TMS through a clinical trial. "I'd say within a month, I was very much better, my interests starting returning, I was more active, I stopped sleeping as much," he said.

Depression affects nearly 21 million American adults. While medication can help some patients, an estimated 20- to 40-percent of patients do not get relief with available drugs or they find the side-effects, such as weight gain and sexual dysfunction, too bothersome.

A small number of patients enrolled in the TMS trial did report a mild headache but no other side effects. Less than five-percent of patients dropped out of the study due to sideeffects.

TMS is not covered by insurance yet, but it could be within the year. Right now it costs up to $4,000. The TMS Program at Pennsylvania School of Medicine does offer reduced treatment costs to eligible patients. For more information, call 215-573-8582.


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