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Nancy Schimelpfening

FDA Approves New Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression

By October 14, 2008

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If you are struggling to find a treatment which helps your depression, you now have a new option to explore. On October 7, the NeuroStar TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Therapy system, developed by Neuronetics, Inc., became the first and only TMS Therapy device to receive FDA approval for the treatment of severe, treatment-resistant depression.

TMS Therapy involves the delivery of highly focused MRI-strength magnetic pulses to nerve cells in an area of the brain that is linked to depression. Unlike Vagus Nerve Stimulation, another relatively new therapy for treatment-resistant depression, no surgery or implant is required. The patient remains awake during the entire 40-minute procedure, which is performed on an out-patient basis in a psychiatrist's office. Treatment is generally administered daily over a period of four to six weeks at a cost of about $200-300 per session.

TMS Therapy has been safely used on over 10,000 patients. During clinical trials, it was observed that there were:

  • No systemic side effects, such as sedation, nausea or dry mouth
  • No adverse effects on concentration or memory
  • No seizures
  • No interactions between the device and any drugs the patients were taking

The primary side effect that patients experienced was mild to moderate scalp pain at the treatment area, which declined after the first week of treatment.

Less than five percent of patients dropped out due to adverse events. No new safety observations were made during the six month follow-up period.

The Medical University of South Carolina, which conducted the research on the device, is currently the only location in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida where this treatment option is available. Patients will have access to the new treatment within two months.

Only adult patients with treatment-resistant major depression (those who have failed to achieve relief with other treatments or medications) are eligible for treatment. The treatment is not recommended for patients with implanted metallic devices or non-removable metallic objects in or around the head.

If you are interested in learning more about TMS therapy or how you can receive treatment, you can visit the MUSC website at http://www.muschealth.com/.

October 16, 2008 at 1:30 am
(1) Heather says:

What exactly is it if it’s not an implant or surgery? What do they do? Do they have to cut all your hair off to do it?

October 16, 2008 at 8:39 am
(2) Nancy Schimelpfening - Depression Guide at About.com says:


I think the article below will answer your question. It’s not an invasive procedure at all. The device is held next to your head and pulses of magnetic energy penetrate your skull.


October 16, 2008 at 11:36 am
(3) perkysmom says:

“Delivered daily for 4 to 6 weeks at $200-$300 a session”. Let’s assume the MD takes the weekend off, and the patient only needs to go for 4 weeks; that’s 20 sessions at $200 a pop, (and we’re going by the LOW price and least amount of time needed), that’s $4,000 for something so new that it probably won’t be covered under insurance. Beyond the means for many people. Better stick to pills for the time being.

October 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm
(4) Mark says:

I have been following this treatment for a long time. A friend of my mom suffered with depression for years. This is the first treatment that works. Works just as good as meds and no side affects. Is a no brainier

January 25, 2009 at 2:33 am
(5) diurnal says:

Whooptidoo,, You really think magnets will treat major depression? This is just another blind attempt to try to treat depression. This is all a placebo effect. Don’t u all see this? LMAO, what a joke this is, it already been proven that it doesn’t help… just take a sugar pill it will do the job this bogus treatment will do.

October 19, 2009 at 12:36 am
(6) RVA says:

If you have nothing nice to say then keep it to yourself. Anyone who suffers from depression already feels bad enough.
hope is one reason I am still alive. if you don’t have hope then why would you continue to suffer? feeling like a worthless piece of … driving down a road to no where is my current state. I’m hopefull that one day I will feel “normal” and that’s what keeps me going.

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