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Magnetic Brain Stimulation Treats Depression Independent of Sleep Effect

Update Date: Oct 27, 2012 08:23 AM EDT

Patients on antidepressant medication can now rely on their natural sleep cycle and not worry about sleepiness or insomnia due to the side effects of these antidepressant drugs. A recent study from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences revealed patients who underwent treatment for depression with the Neuronetics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy were less likely to suffer insomnia, sleepiness or anxiety.

Approximately 50-90 percent patients under medication complain about insomnia while others complain about over sleepiness.

"One of the many bad things about depression is that often patients cannot sleep. We think it's a significant symptom, if patients can't sleep, it really adds to their distress, and even increases the likelihood of suicide. We need antidepressant treatments that patients can tolerate so that they will stay with the treatment, which takes weeks to fully achieve. Our study adds to the evidence showing that TMS has remarkably few side effects", said Dr. Peter B. Rosenquist, vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.

The analysis was conducted on 301 patients on 23 sites which essentially compared the anti-depressive effects of the Neuronetics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy System to sham (placebo) treatment on patients resistant to antidepressants. The analysis was followed by TMS sessions on these patients for 40 minutes, five days a week, which continued for 6 weeks.

The study revealed the effectiveness of TMS with no differences in insomnia or sleepiness to those patients who underwent the sham (placebo) therapy. The TMS treatment groups of patients were less likely to request insomnia and anxiety-related medication.

"It's important for us to understand the full range of the effects of any treatment we give" added Rosenquist. "People's sleep gets better as their depression improves, but the treatment doesn't itself cause sedation or insomnia," he said.

The finding is expected to tone down the qualms of sleep-related side effects, as reported by researchers.

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