Magnetic field treatment for depression

MOOSIC, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – You may not think it, but depression is one of the world’s leading causes of disability. The World Health Organization estimates 350 million people suffer from depression.

Among those who deal with depression are actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, comedian Trevor Noah and former Super Bowl winning quarterback Mark Rypien. Now, thanks to a relatively new medical tool, there’s more hope for patients trying to cope.

“That’s basically what you would hear,” said Dr. Matthew Berger, MD of a clicking noise made by demonstrating the Neurostar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy or TMS therapy for short. It’s a go-to treatment option this psychiatrist now uses for many of his patients suffering from major depressive disorder when other treatments aren’t effective. “A lot of times the pills just didn’t work so we needed a new modality and this is what we were looking for.”

Dr. Berger simulated how he places the device on a patient’s head and uses a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. “It’s like the thermostat for depression in your brain.” Patients remain seated for the approximately half-hour treatment session watching tv, reading or listening to music. They just need to stay awake for a treatment that you really don’t feel. “This is not shock therapy. This is not ECT. It’s a totally different mechanism of action,” he said.

To date, Dr. Berger has used Neurostar TMS therapy to treat about 200 patients suffering from major depression. He sees results where mood-controlling medication often fails. “About 40 percent of patients who are treated for depression even after five trials which means they’ve been tried on five different things will have residual depressive symptoms. So, that’s not good.”

As for how effective Neurostar TMS therapy is for patients who receive the treatment Dr. Berger answered, “Usually those patients will stay good for years.”

For now, Neurostar TMS Therapy is used for major depressive disorder but Dr. Berger expects the FDA will also approve it for obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder. He says the treatment is covered by all insurance except medical assistance.