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Brain Stimulation Treatments May Be Effective For Depression

Update Date: Jul 22, 2014 02:09 PM EDT

Brain stimulation treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) might be effective for the treatment of depression, a new study has reported. The findings added that like antidepressant medications, they typically start late.

Researchers in their study reported that low field magnetic stimulation (LFMS) is a treatment that has rapid mood-elevating effects.

"LFMS is unlike any current treatment. It uses magnetic fields that are a fraction of the strength but at higher frequency than the electromagnetic fields used in TMS and ECT," explained first author Dr. Michael Rohan, in the press release.

Researchers considered around 63 currently depressed patients who were diagnosed with either major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. Participants of the study were randomized to receive a single 20-minute treatment of real LFMS or sham LFMS.

According to findings, the LFMS may have the potential to provide immediate relief of depressed mood, perhaps even in emergency situations.

"The idea that weak electrical stimulation of the brain could produce beneficial effects on depression symptoms is somewhat surprising," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, in the press release. "Yet the data make a compelling case that this safe approach deserves further study."

The findings of the study has been published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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