UC Berkeley Press Release

USA: Non-Drug Treatment For Depression Found Effective In Tests

WASHINGTON (The Times of India - ANI), November 23, 2007:

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been tested as an effective, non-drug treatment for major depression for the first time in a large-scale study, which has been reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry .

Dr Philip Janicak, professor of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center , believes that this therapy may be beneficial for patients with major depression who have not responded to conventional antidepressant medications.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive technique that excites neurons in the brain by magnetic pulses introduced through the scalp.

The participants involved in the study were patients with depression who had not responded to prior antidepressants, and who were not taking antidepressant medications during the study.

After four to six weeks of active or sham TMS, the response and remission rates among the participants were measured.

The researchers said that the response and remission rates with active TMS were approximately twice of the rates with the sham treatment.

According to them, the treatment was well-tolerated by patients because it had mild side effects.

The findings of the study have been mentioned in an article titled ‘Efficacy and Safety of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in the Acute Treatment of Major Depression: A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial'.

Dr John P O'Reardon, the corresponding author on this project and associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania , said: "These results indicate that TMS provides a novel and attractive treatment option for patients with major depression who have not responded to conventional antidepressant medications."

O'Reardon adds, "As indicated by recent large scale, government-sponsored, studies of existing treatment options for major depression conducted by the National Institute of Health (the STAR-D reports), there is a great need to develop new effective treatments for patients, especially those not benefiting from first line interventions. The results of this study indicate that TMS offers new hope to patients in this regard."

Highlighting the significance of the new findings, Biological Psychiatry's editor Dr John H Krystal said: "This study provides new support for the efficacy of TMS as a ‘stand alone' treatment for depression. 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."

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