Promising news for the millions of Americans who suffer from major depression. A remarkable new medical technology is now considered second line therapy for treating major depression. Linda Mays reports, this is an alternative treatment when medication is not quite enough.
This image of the brain of someone who's battling major depression shows less activity than the non-depression brain image. Experts say major depression is a brain disease.
Dr. Paul Weir, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst says, "Major depression is a specific form of depression. It's an illness that's very severe and lasts for long period of time. And there are certain signs and symptoms. Lack of zest for life, lack of interest in life. heir enthusiasm for relationships work for their hobbies sort of fade away."
Dr. Weir offers the latest technology to treat major depression. It is called the Neurostar TMS Therapy system. It delivers Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
Weir says, "TMS is a magnetic pulse. It's a series of magnetic pulses that delivered to executive centers of the brain. This is the left side. It makes the cells in that area of the brain wake up as it fires 3,000 times per treatment."
Bryan Olson says he's fought depression for a number of years with the help of therapist and anti-depressants.
Olson says, "I've always been functional I'm not someone who had trouble getting out of bed, working or holding down a job. That's not me."
Olson adds, "I could see that other people were reacting and feeling in ways I wasn't and there was something missing, something more wrong with once that wasn't to going to be cured by people saying hey just snap out it."
Olson is one of several people who decided to undergo TMS therapy.
During the 40 minute treatment a small magnetic coil on the scalp targets the precise location in the brain that controls mood.
The staff and the patient wear earplugs to reduce the magnet's knocking sound during treatment.
Olson says, "The way I 've described it to people, It's like putting on a baseball helmet and putting on a hard hat and have someone tap on the helmet while its hitting, it takes a little getting used to."
Recommended TMS treatment is five days a week for four to six weeks. The sessions are closely monitored. In fact, the patient completes a self inventory of their depression symptoms weekly.
Bryan Olson's report at the end of his TMS treatment in early March this year indicates an improvement. Olson says, "Dr Weir helped, medication helped but, after I had TMS even a week I really felt that negative ball was gone. I wasn't wrestling with extra inexplicable negative part in my personality." Olson says he feels better and so far, the improvement continues and it's been a few months now.
Possible side effects of TMS may include-- pain at the treatment site or a headache that can be alleviated with an over the counter pain reliever.
TMS is FDA-cleared and is included in the American Psychiatric Association's depression treatment guidelines. Tests have shown that TMS therapy helps improve depression symptoms and in some cases patients experience remission. Dr. Weir says, it's a treatment and not a cure because depression is a recurring illness. Dr. Weir's practice is one of two sites with the TMS therapy in our area.
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