New Antidepressant Treatment Involves Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

New Antidepressant Treatment Involves Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation



Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is​ an​ experimental antidepression treatment that proved to​ be more effective than sham therapy in​ a​ large scale. a​ sham therapy, also called placebo therapy, is​ an​ inactive treatment or​ procedure that is​ intended to​ mimic as​ closely as​ possible a​ therapy in​ a​ clinical trial.
Though the​ experiment has not been approved by the​ FDA for​ antidepression treatment, an​ advisory panel for​ the​ agency found TMS to​ be safe. However, panel members also expressed doubts about the​ research showing the​ treatment to​ be effective.
TMS is​ a​ noninvasive procedure that requires no anesthesia and​ administered in​ an​ outpatient setting. This antidepression treatment sessions last from 30 to​ 45 minutes with patients reclining in​ a​ special chair while a​ specially placed coil device creates a​ magnetic field from outside of​ the​ body. This allows magnetic field to​ induce an​ electric current to​ regions of​ the​ brain thought to​ regulate mood.
Three hundred one patients with major depression who had failed to​ respond to​ antidepressant drugs participated in​ the​ experiment and​ half of​ them received TMS, which was given five times a​ week in​ 35-minute sessions for​ four to​ six weeks. the​ other half received the​ sham therapy, but neither the​ patients nor those administering the​ therapy knew which treatment was being given.
According to​ research report appearing in​ the​ December issue of​ the​ Biological Psychiatry journal, response and​ remission rates among patients who got active TMS were roughly twice those of​ patients who got the​ sham therapy.
While researcher John P. O'Reardon, MD, concedes that response and​ remission rates were relatively low for​ both treatment groups, this is​ because the​ study included only patients who had proven resistant to​ previous treatments.
Between 14% and​ 17% of​ patients on the​ active treatment had achieved a​ remission after six weeks, compared with 5% to​ 8% of​ patients in​ the​ sham treatment group.
“In a​ less-resistant population we would expect to​ see higher responses,” said O'Reardon.
Although TMS treatments are typically given five times a​ week, patients usually need a​ minimum of​ 10 sessions and​ as​ many as​ 30 to​ see improvement. Its major advantage is​ the​ fact that it​ is​ safe, however, the​ disadvantage is​ the​ time-intensity of​ the​ treatment.
When the​ FDA advisory panel met in​ January of​ this year to​ consider TMS, officials with the​ agency questioned the​ research showing TMS to​ be a​ useful antidepression treatment for​ major depression. However, there are those who are quite convinced with the​ studies, such as​ Mayo Clinic professor of​ Psychiatry and​ Pharmacology Elliott Richelson, MD, who may not be involved with the​ studies but said that since the​ studies involved patients who had not responded to​ other treatments, “I think the​ responses they got were good.”
There are still very few centers around the​ country that offer TMS as​ antidepression treatment but the​ approval of​ FDA could change the​ trend and​ the​ treatment could potentially benefit a​ wide range of​ patients, not just those with major depression who have failed other therapies.




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