A magnet that relieves depression symptoms? - CBS46 News

A magnet that relieves depression symptoms?

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It's been a rough road, but E.J. Stephenson is starting to enjoy the little things again.

"I feel totally...a different person," he said.

After losing his job of 31 years, the 58-year-old Philadelphia native was forced to move to Atlanta for a new job, without his family, and sank into a deep depression.

"I could taste the depression, I was so down."

A doctor prescribed anti-depressants, but Stephenson began to lose a lot of weight and wasn't feeling any better. So he turned to Atlanta psychiatrist, Dr. Brian Teliho and TMS - or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

"If someone had gone to their psychiatrist, and medications haven't helped, this would be a good next step," Teliho said.

TMS delivers targeted magnetic pulses directly to the part of the brain that is believed to control mood.

"You can awaken circuitry in the brain that has been dormant, or let's just say malfunctioning, in the brain of someone who is depressed," Teliho said.

Unlike electroshock therapy, which is still used today, TMS is an outpatient treatment and it isn't painful, so patients do not need anesthesia.

"You feel a thumping, like a woodpecker on your head," described Stephenson.

Also, the magnetic energy is focused, so there's minimal risk of seizures, confusion or memory loss. "We can focus magnetic energy in ways that we cannot focus electrical energy," Teliho said.

But TMS is time-consuming. It takes about twenty 40-minute sessions over the course of four to six weeks.

Another downfall - it costs about $7,000 to $10,000, and it is not typically covered by insurance.

But Teliho said he's been impressed with the results so far. "Slightly more than half are going to respond to this treatment. Roughly one-third are going to be made completely free of their depression, or achieve remission."

And for Stephenson, having a positive outlook on life is something he can't put a price tag on. "It gives you a peace of mind and you don't feel like you don't have anything to live for."

Teliho said most of his TMS patients are still taking medications, but many have been able to scale back. Some patients will need to return every once and a while for maintenance sessions.

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