As someone who has recently been looking into treatment options like ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), I was excited to see a few new articles (like the one here at the Harvard Gazette) outlining a new, similar treatment with even better results!
While many people consider ECT and TMS treatments to be the most effective treatment available for severe depressive and bipolar episodes (including those with treatment resistant symptoms like mine) there are still drawbacks, and one of the major ones is the period of time after treatments have begun before improvement begins taking place.
Medications (like antidepressants) can often take 4-6 weeks to begin alleviating symptoms of depression, and treatments like TMS and ECT are also not expected to bestow an immediate sense of relief to those who are often experiencing symptoms severe enough to warrant such treatment.
This, however, is where new research (led by researcher Michael Rohan, a physicist at the brain imaging center at Harvard Medical School) has discovered a form of treatment using magnetic fields at a much lower strength than TMS or ECT but at a much higher frequency. The “low-field magnetic stimulation” (LFMS) produces a potential treatment option that appears to have an almost immediate effect of relieving symptoms of depression in severely depressed patients.
While more research needs to be done, the implications could be phenomenal. The ability to provide relief to severely depressed (and potentially suicidal) patients in the ER alone would be hugely beneficial, and as someone who has experienced the sort of long, sprawling, torturous depression that has landed me in the hospital more than once, I can’t even begin to imagine how my life might be different if those symptoms could be relieved before a suicide attempt or a hospitalization!
You can find a more in-depth article outlining the recent study at the Harvard Gazette website here.