A recent research has found
that transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS can make significant improvements
in patients with severe depression who had failed to respond to other
treatments, including antidepressants.
Researchers said that of
the 200 patients involved in the study, 68 percent reported a reduction in
symptoms and 45 percent were in complete remission after the one-year-long
According to the health
uses a magnet to activate the brain
An electromagnetic coil is held against the head and short electromagnetic
pulses are administered through the coil.
The magnetic pulse simply
passes through the skull
and causes small electrical currents that excite nerve
in the targeted brain region.
medicos target the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain involved in
decision-making, mood and emotional responses.
As this type of pulse generally does not reach further than two
inches into the brain, medicos can choose which areas of the brain will be
affected and which areas will not be affected.
The experts added that the
magnetic field is about the same strength as that of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI
Another research conducted
by Harvard Medical School
has revealed that the treatment had
'instantaneous' effects on mood in people with depression. The study tested the
magnetic treatment against a placebo
(a medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefit to the
patient rather than for any physiological effect).
Backing the findings of these researches,
'Daily Mail' last week reported that the condition of a former GP Sue Mildred
has dramatically improved after the TMS treatment.
"She has tried antidepressants
therapies and even electro-convulsive
(ECT), where an electric current is passed through the brain.
This did provide brief relief, but she began to develop memory problems, so she
Eventually, she became resigned to the idea
that her condition would never improve. Yet two years on her mood is lighter and she is back at work thanks to the new treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation," the daily
During each treatment
session, approximately 30 minutes, Sue sat in a chair while a magnetic coil was
held against her head. Up to 3,000 magnetic pulses were transmitted into her
brain for a few seconds at a time, followed by a break of a few seconds.
Within three months of the
treatment, she was able to go back to her job in medicine, and is now working
with elderly patients with
"It's not like there's one
day when you suddenly feel well. The effects have been gradual but
life-changing," she told Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, the treatment is
now also being tested as a new treatment for the eating disorder anorexia
According to the statistics
of the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 350 million people live with
depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It affects not
only the person with depression, but their loved ones too.
The condition often starts
at a young age and affects women more commonly than men. 1 or 2 mothers out of
10 have depression after childbirth
Depression also restricts a mother's capacity to care for her child and can
seriously affect the child's physical and mental growth.
Almost 1 million people
take their own lives each year due to depression. Symptoms of
include persistent sadness, low energy and difficulty in functioning normally.