22 November 2007

Electromagnetic Brain Stimulation: More on TMS as Depression Treatment

Electromagnetic brain stimulation has been used for Parkinson's,... Alzheimer's,... Tourette's,...dystonia,... simply for overall "brain boosting."

Here is a recent look at using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for depression:
"This study provides new support for the efficacy of TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) as a 'stand alone' treatment for depression," said John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry which will publish the study on December 1.

"This finding could be particularly important for patients who do not tolerate antidepressant medications, for whom they are not safe, or who have not benefited from other alternative treatments."

The treatment works by sending very rapid bursts of magnetic energy into the brain through coils attached to the scalp.

These pulses cause the neurons in a small area of the brain to "fire off," said study co-author Philip Janicak, a psychiatry professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

.... This is the first large-scale study of the technique and researchers also used much higher doses of the energy pulses.

Remission rates among those who received the treatment were twice as high as those receiving a "sham" treatment where a shield was placed on the coils.

They were also higher than average rates in antidepressant drug trials, Janicak said.

This is particular significant given that most of the patients in the study had failed to respond to antidepressants - a criteria which would have excluded them from most drug trials, he said.

Researchers in at 23 sites in Canada, the United States and Australian randomly assigned 325 patients suffering from major depressive disorder to nine weeks of magnetic stimulation or a sham treatment.

We are a long way from understanding the complex structure and function of the human brain, and how it shapes our behaviour and conscious experience. Better methods of mapping microscopic nerve pathways in the brain should help, as should better real-time brain imaging techniques used in conjunction with targeted neuropsychological testing.

Using TMS, deep brain stimulation (DBS), neural interface chips, and other non-pharmacological methods of targeted modifying of brain pathways and nuclei should give researchers and clinicians more options for study and treatment of normal and pathological brain/mind processes.

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Blogger M Chamberlain said...

I've been one of the early guinea pigs in a TMS trial, after a lifetime of severe depression going back to my early teens.
To call me "treatment-resistant" is to understate the case, especially over the last five years. Those of you who have suffered hour-by-hour with no relief for decades will know what I mean.
The experimental therapy put an end to it: I am free from depression, pruductive, and connecting with others in a way I haven't for years. There was some tinkering with the settings as this was a trial, but once the right amperage was arrived at my condition has gone beyond remission to cure, as in "Awakenings" cure. To those who fight off self-destruction as the principal goal of life Let me assure you: for many of you this may soon come to an end.
What is needed is public support for getting these devices into the system. If a loved one is incapacitated by depression, ask anyone who will listen what the public can to to speed adoption or these new, safe, side-effect free treatments.

Friday, 19 December, 2008  

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