Depression treated with magnetic therapy in Grand Rapids

11:59 AM, Jan 26, 2011   |    comments
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A new treatment in Grand Rapids uses magnetic stimulation instead of medication.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Depression is often a very difficult condition to treat. Sometimes it takes months or even years for patients to find the right medication. A new treatment in Grand Rapids uses magnetic stimulation instead of medication and one patient says it changed her life.

"It's irritating when you're depressed, it's irritating even to brush your teeth," said Phyllis Meyers.  She has suffered with depression for nearly 15 years until she was recommended to psychiatrist Dr. Henry Mulder of Psychiatric Associates of West Michigan, who thought she would be an excellent candidate for a new type of magnetic therapy called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

"People thought if we can pulse the brain with an electromagnetic field that will produce some current in the brain cells running perpendicular to it and low and behold it does," said Dr. Mulder.  He uses the NeuroStar device at his practice in Grand Rapids to help transmit the magnetic stimulation.  "The motorstrip is usually at the back of the ear but that's usually our first landmark to see where we're going to place the magnet."

Once the magnet is in place a series of pulses are transmitted into Phyllis' brain stimulating it's metabolism and signaling it to wake up the neurons so they can once again communicate. "It can be an alternative for people who can't tolerate medicine or don't want to take medication but it also can be used in combination with the two augmenting each other," said Dr. Mulder. 

Each treatment lasts about 37 minutes and is given every day for about a month. So far the results Dr. Mulder is seeing from the new magnetic stimulation therapy are impressive.  He said, "We know that at a year's time about 90% still have the positive effects of the treatment."

But it doesn't always mean that patients like Phyllis will immediately be able to stop taking their medication. "It can work together, and in my case we knew that I'd have to stay on medication for a while, but in a few months he's going to start taking me off the medication and I'm very excited about that," said Phyllis Meyers.

It's something she wants to share with others who suffer from depression. "One day at a time you can move from here into a better place in your life. And it's never too late," she said. 

The Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy may soon be available for patients who suffer from schizophrenia, migraines and post traumatic stress disorder.

Right now only select insurances cover the therapy.

By Valerie Lego

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