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New way to treat depression: Does Magnetic Therapy Work?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Magnetic therapy treats depression when medications fail.

A Loyola University Medical Center physician, along with almost 300 other medical centers across the nation, is using magnetic therapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat major depression.

According to Dr. Murali Rao, magnetic therapy is “rapidly gaining momentum.”

TMS was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2009 for use in patients who fail to get symptom relief after using at least one antidepressant.

The therapy involves using a magnetic coil, placed next to the left side of the head, while the patient reclines comfortably in a reclining chair.

The coil delivers short pulses of magnetic fields to the surface of the brain to stimulate deep brain circuitry that controls mood. A treatment lasts 35 to 40 minutes.

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Dr. Rao has seen success in two-thirds of patients treated with transcranial magnetic stimulation.

One patient, Nan Miller, failed to find depression relief after taking nine different medications. Miller said, “I just wanted to die”.

Within a few weeks of receiving magnetic therapy, Miller said, I could almost hear the chains breaking, the darkness lifting and the heaviness dissolving," she said. "I feel about 10 years younger and 20 shades lighter."

Patients typically received 3 treatments a week for four to six weeks.

Rao, who is chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, reports magnetic therapy, which is non-invasive and doesn’t require sedation, completely eliminated major depression for some of his patients.

Loyola University Health System
February 12, 2012

Image credit: Moreguefile