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Promising treatment for depression to be tested on teens

TMS treatment// WSBT 22

Magnets are being used to treat depression at Beacon Health in South Bend.

The non-drug treatment called TMS, or Transcranial magnetic stimulation, is working so well in adults it is now being tested in teens.

Beacon is part of a national study that also includes hospitals at Ohio State and Mayo Clinic. The study is investigating the safety and efficacy of the treatment in young adults and teens.

TMS targets key areas of the brain with magnetic pulses. Those key areas are thought to be under-active in patients with depression. The technology which is similar to MRI seems to wake up those parts of the brain.

By all accounts, patient Kate Russell has had a great life.

"A great family, a great husband. I have got good job. Yeah, I have been very fortunate," says Russell.

But for Russell, who is now nearing retirement, enjoying that good fortune has never come easy.

"Depression. It is a mental illness and I have had it all my adult life," Russell says.

She has tried countless medications and treatments. Nothing was as effective as TMS.

"It is like a cloud has been lifted off of me. It is amazing," says Russell.

This treatment has been working in adult patients like Russell, who have not been satisfied with antidepressant medication or other treatments. TMS patients experience very few side effects and for many the treatment lasts longer than other options.

The FDA has cleared TMS for adults 22 to 70-years-old. The latest study seeks to learn how this treatment could impact people ages 12 to 21 years old.

Dr. Ahmed Elmaadawi, a child psychiatrist and the principle investigator for the national TMS study to treat adolescent depression, says they won't know the study's results for a while, but it is promising. The treatment is already being used off-label for some teens whose parents are willing to pay for it.

"This treatment has helped many families and younger patients as well as adults," says Elmaadawi.

For Russell, this type of treatment comes too late for her son who also suffered from depression and took his own life 6-years-ago.

"I can deal with it now. It is not as hard as it used to be. Part of it is because I can deal with life now," says Russell.

For the first time in a long time, Russell is enjoying her life.

"I'm excited. I'm excited about it. I'm hoping to retire in next couple years. I have all sorts of plans," Russell says.

The treatment does require a time commitment. The TMS treatments are given five days a week for 4-5 weeks and take about 45 minutes.

Contact Toni Riehm, RN for more information:

Phone: (574) 647-6584

Email: triehm@beaconhealthsystem.org

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