Now, a magnetic therapy to treat depression
The NeuroStar TMS Therapy developed by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles works by beaming magnetic pulses through the skull that trigger small electrical charges that spark brain cells to fire.
The study findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, could be a potent new treatment, the researchers said.
During each half-hour session the patient was placed under a treatment coil which is the size of a cupped hand. It sent a pulsed magnetic field an inch under the scalp to the prefrontal cortex, the ante cingulate cortex and the limbic system, which are the three areas of the brain thought to regulate mood.
The magnetic field is similar in strength to that created by an MRI machine and sparks off very small electrical currents within the brain. This stimulates neuron activity thought to provide relief from depression.
Anti-depressants are released into the blood, which can cause widespread physical side-effects such as hot flushes and nausea. However, supporters of Neurostar said because it’s a targeted therapy it only causes mild scalp pain.