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New TMS Clinic Offers Noninvasive Treatment For Major Depression

November 5, 2009

Rush University Medical Center has opened the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Clinic to offer patients suffering from major depression a safe, effective, non-drug treatment. TMS therapy is the first FDA-approved, non-invasive antidepressant device-based treatment clinically proven for treatment of depression.

Psychiatrists at Rush University Medical Center were among the first to test the technique and Dr. Philip Janicak, professor of psychiatry and lead investigator at Rush for the clinical trials of TMS, helped to develop this therapy.

The TMS therapy system delivers highly focused magnetic field pulses to a specific portion of the brain, the left prefrontal cortex, in order to stimulate the areas of the brain linked to depression. The repeated short bursts of magnetic energy introduced through the scalp excite neurons in the brain.

Depression affects at least 14 million American adults each year. Researchers estimate that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide. According to Janicak, drug treatment options can be ineffective or intolerable due to side effects. Current antidepressant therapies are not beneficial for at least a third of depressed individuals, leaving many with a lack of adequate treatment options.

“Patients receive treatment in an outpatient setting and are able to return to normal activities right away.” TMS therapy does not require anesthesia or sedation and patients remain awake and alert. It is a 40-minute outpatient procedure that is prescribed by a psychiatrist and administered daily for four-to-six weeks.

“TMS therapy is a safe and effective alternative for patients who suffer from major depressive disorder and are not getting satisfactory improvement from antidepressant medications,” said Janicak.

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