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article imageTreating depression with brain orientated magnets

By Tim Sandle     Jun 24, 2017 in Health
New research has been undertaken relation to lowering the impact of depression on the affected individual. Researchers from the Semel Institute report on an interesting approach for tackling depression using magnets.
The treatment involves the use of magnets. The magnetic approach is designed as an additional treatment, rather than an absolute cure. The aim is to use the method for people who have some little response to psychiatric drugs. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was pioneered by organizations like NeuroStar Advanced Therapy almost ten years ago. The process received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in 2008, following several clinical studies for depression. Since then transcranial magnetic stimulation has been rigorously studied to prove its safety, efficacy and durability.
Modified by the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, the process is called transcranial magnetic stimulation. The basic approach is with the use of magnetic beams to target deep into brain tissue. The process alters the function of neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain. Early trials suggest it can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression in patients.
According to Dr. Ian Cook, who has pioneered the therapy: “We are actually changing how the brain circuits are arranged, how they talk to each other. The brain is an amazingly changeable organ. In fact, every time people learn something new, there are physical changes in the brain structure that can be detected.”
READ MORE: Psychologists use machine learning to diagnose depression
The transcranial magnetic stimulation process involves the patient sitting on a chair while a magnetic stimulator is placed against their head. The device sends short but intense magnetic pulses into the brain, where they generate an electric current. The stimulation coil of the TMS instrument consists of multiple wire loops encased in an insulated material. This is connected to powerful capacitors capable of passing a large electrical current through the coil.
The location of the device is based on a clinical review of brain imaging patterns. Generally pulses are centered over the left prefrontal cortex, an area that often shows abnormal electrical activity in depressed patients. Clinical judgment is also required in relation to the strength and number of pulses administered.
A typical course of the therapy involves 20 to 30 sessions, generally given in three to five treatments per week for four to six weeks. The video below shows the therapy in action:
With the process, medics currently recommend that patients continue to take their current medication and undertaken any necessary psychotherapy. The effects, while beneficial to some patients, do not suit all. Some patients have reported remission in symptoms; however, for others the effects have not been apparent meaning that more conventional treatments are still required.
More about Depression, Magnets, Anxiety, Psychology, pyschiatry
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