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New Treatment For Depression

November 21, 2013, 6:15 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

New Treatment For Depression

Chances are you or someone you love has suffered from depression. A reported one in ten Americans will have the mental illness. Some patients suffer for years and try several different medications.

"Right after I had my son I had some postpartum depression," Abby Erickson said.

The depression continued even though she tried several different medications.

"You are not sure if you feel sad or if it's going to go away, so people are depressed for years before they even really realize how bad it is," Erickson said.

Erickson got to the point where she was even thinking suicidal thoughts. That's when doctors recommended she try a new therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.

TMS is usually used on people who have tried several different medication or have had side effects to medications.

"There is a fair number of people who just don't tolerate medications," Avera Behavioral Health Medical Director Dr. Matt Stanley said.

Stanley says patients at Avera Behavioral Health Center on TMS have tried an average of eight medications.

"The average years they've suffered from depression has been twenty," Stanley said.

While Stanley says these patients have been the most difficult to treat, TMS has had impressive results.

"When you see ten or 20 percent response rates, that's pretty impressive. We're talking about greater than 50 percent remission with this machine in the patients we've treated," Stanley said.

Stanley says patients usually notice results with three to six weeks of treatment. Erickson says for the first time in years she's enjoying life again.

“I don't feel depressed at all. I don't feel anxiety. It literally has changed my life," Erickson said.

She now wants to make sure others dealing with depression get the help they need.

"I feel we need to stop hiding depression," Erickson said. "Anybody can be depressed and it's not because of something you did. Anybody can feel depressed.”

Another benefit of TMS is that it's non-invasive. Still there are a few possible side effects, including headache, tingling and lightheadedness. More serious, but very uncommon side effects include: seizures, mania and hearing loss.

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