New treatment for those suffering depression -

New treatment for depression

For those that suffer ongoing symptoms, there's a new breakthrough treatment for depression.

"I've had depression for years," says Esther. She adds that she "changed medicines and tried different medicines so many times."

Esther's story isn't uncommon. She says she had no desire to go anywhere or do anything. She says, "I didn't have a happy life at all."

"Twenty-percent of people that have depression don't get better. They go on to what's called chronic depression. And up until now, there haven't been too many things that have been that useful for those people that get stuck in depression. This is really a breakthrough treatment," says Dr. Wright with the University of Louisville Depression Center.

The treatment is called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. A magnetic pulse is applied to a part of the brain associated with depression.

Dr. Wright says, "The cortex of the brain - that's the part that's near the surface - that controls our thinking. It's actually under-active in depression, and the part that's closer to the center of the brain that controls all of our emotions is over-active. What the TMS does is bring those back into balance."

It takes 20 to 30 treatments, five days a week, lasting about 30 minutes each.

Esther says, "It wasn't real uncomfortable.. It was just like a thumping on my head if that's the right word."

And unlike the old treatment, shock therapy, TMS doesn't require anesthesia and has few side effects.

"It was about seven to ten days before I really felt the full results of it, but then I started feeling better and it was just wonderful," said Esther.

For Esther, it was a happy ending to years of sadness. She adds, "Nobody knows how many times I thank God everyday that I feel so good."

Dr. Wright says some patients may need booster treatments.

Also, for now, insurance coverage is not a guarantee.

But researchers are compiling data on patients to prove the treatment works and that it can save money by eliminating the need for other on-going therapies.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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