Atlanta Business Chronicle by Urvaksh Karkaria, Staff Writer

Date: Friday, October 26, 2012, 9:41am EDT – Last Modified: Friday, October 26, 2012, 10:30am EDT
Magnetic stimulation helps to treat depression
ACBJ file photo

While powerful magnetic stimulation of the frontal lobe of the brain can alleviate symptoms of depression, those receiving the treatment did not report effects on sleep or arousal commonly seen with antidepressant medications,Georgia Health Sciences University researchers say.

Staff Writer- Atlanta Business Chronicle
While powerful magnetic stimulation of the frontal lobe of the brain can alleviate symptoms of depression, those receiving the treatment did not report effects on sleep or arousal commonly seen with antidepressant medications, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers say.

The finding resulted from a secondary analysis of a study of 301 patients at 23 sites comparing the anti-depressive effects of the Neuronetics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy System to placebo treatment in patients resistant to antidepressant medications.

TMS sessions were given for 40 minutes, five days a week for six weeks. Initial findings were the primary evidence in the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of TMS for depression. The secondary review reaffirmed TMS’s effectiveness in depression but revealed no differences in rates of insomnia or sleepiness among those who got actual and placebo therapy. Patients in the treatment group were also no more likely to request medication for insomnia or anxiety.

Sleep problems are a common side effect of major antidepressants: some drugs sedate patients while others stimulate them and increase insomnia. Insomnia occurs in 50-90 percent of patients with major depressive disorder. Other depressed patients complain they sleep too much. The good news is that TMS does not contribute to insomnia or oversleeping.

TMS targets the prefrontal cortex of the brain, involved in mood regulation as well as other higher-order functions like planning, evaluating and decision-making. In this procedure, patients sit in a recliner and receive brief pulses of a MRI strength magnet held against the front of the head. The magnetic energy of TMS causes the brain cells closest to the surface of the brain to increase their activity which in turn influences the activity of the brain as a whole.

Major Depressive Disorder affects about 14.8 million, or about 6.7 percent of American adults in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s the leading cause of disability in ages 15 to 44.

Urvaksh Karkaria covers Technology and Health Care

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