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Northwestern Memorial Hospital testing new procedure for patients with major depression

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive technique that uses repeated short bursts of magnetic energy to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, is now being tested at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine as a potential treatment for participants with major depression. Northwestern will be one of 16 centers participating in the nationwide clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of TMS on participants who have not responded to antidepressant medications during efforts to manage their depression.

"Through this trial we hope to prove the effectiveness of TMS as a treatment alternative for major depression," said Dr. William Gilmer, psychiatrist at Northwestern Memorial, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and principal investigator for the Northwestern site. "We hope this treatment can provide another option to patients who haven't found success with many of the antidepressant medications currently available."

TMS produces about the same amount of magnetic energy as a standard MRI machine and works by sending pulses of magnetic energy aimed specifically at a portion of the brain called the left prefrontal cortex, which is thought to be involved with mood regulation.

The nature of magnetic fields allows the special pulses of energy to easily pass through the skull and into the brain. Once inside the brain, the magnetic pulses produce an electric field, which is thought to cause positive changes in mood. Participants remain fully awake during the 45 minute outpatient procedure and can resume their normal daily activities after the procedure. A TMS procedure is in no way similar to an electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) procedure - which requires a patient to receive anesthesia.

"The objective of TMS is to stimulate the "mood circuits" without causing a seizure. The stimulation applied to the brain
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Contact: Molly Rabinovitz
mrabinov@nmh.org
312-926-9632
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
10-Nov-2004


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