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Previous studies have found that about 20% of the over 30 million Americans who suffer depression during their lifetime will not be benefited by drugs or the side effects are too great. Traditionally, the alternative has been electroconvulsive or shock therapy which requires general anesthesia and can cause seizures or temporary memory loss. A new treatment is now being trialed at two Chicago hospitals for these unresponsive patients. The transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) takes about 45 minutes and involves targeting magnetic pulses into the brain portion linked to depression. Small studies have shown the treatment to alleviate depression in 40-50% of subjects. A confirmation of these results by another study under way will probably lead to the FDA's approval of the treatment. Patients claim that treatment is a little uncomfortable but not unbearable. Side effects may include mild headache, scalp irritation, ringing in the ears and a small risk of seizure. The treatment requires initial regular treatments and it is quite costly. TMS is also being assessed for its possible use as a therapy for Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and migraines.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by Chicago Sun-Times
About: Magnetic pulse therapy may help depression sufferers where drugs fail
Date: 31 January 2005
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Author: Jim Ritter
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