For anyone looking for an alternative to medications or ECT for the treatment of depression, there’s a new FDA-approved option: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

NeuroStar TMS Therapy® is specifically indicated for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder in adult patients who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from one prior antidepressant medication at or above the minimal effective dose and duration in the current episode. In clinical trials with NeuroStar TMS Therapy, these patients had been treated with a median of 4 medication treatment attempts, one of which achieved criteria for adequate dose and duration.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) utilizes an electromagnet placed on the scalp that generates magnetic field pulses roughly the strength of an MRI scan. The magnetic pulses pass through the skin and skull, stimulating the underlying cerebral cortex.

NeuroStar also points out the side effects (or lack thereof) from the treatment:

  • No systemic side effects, such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, sedation, nausea, or dry mouth
  • No adverse effects on concentration or memory
  • No seizures
  • No device-drug interactions
  • The most common adverse event related to treatment was scalp pain or discomfort at the treatment area during active treatments, which was transient and mild to moderate in severity. The incidence of this side effect declined markedly after the first week of treatment.
  • There was a less than 5% discontinuation rate due to adverse events.
  • During a 6-month follow-up period, there were no new safety observations compared to those seen during acute treatment.

TMS is a 40-minute outpatient procedure that is prescribed by a psychiatrist and performed in a psychiatrist’s office. The treatment is typically administered daily for 4-6 weeks.

Of course, the real test of this treatment will be in independent followup studies done in the years to come. But for now, it’s good to have yet another treatment option available to anyone seeking help with their depression.

 


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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Oct 2008
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). TMS Treatment for Depression Gains FDA Approval. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 6, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/10/09/tms-treatment-for-depression-gains-fda-approval/

 

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