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Treatment Helps Patients Find Relief From Depression

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A treatment is helping patients with depression who aren’t finding relief with medication.

Travis Stone suffers from anxiety and depression. He has ever since serving in Afghanistan. "I have been taking medications for depression and anxiety ever since my deployment finished up about 6 or 7 years ago."

Even with medication, Stone said he wasn't himself. He decided to try a treatment called TMS, which stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

UnityPoint’s Penn Mental Health started offering the non-invasive form of brain stimulation four months ago. Patients sit a in chair for about 20 minutes 5 days a week for 6 weeks while magnetic fields stimulate nerve cells in the brain.

Psychiatrist Shehzad Kamran said, "It's a treatment that uses magnetic fields that generate an electric current that pass from the skull to the brain, and it stimulates a part of the brain that we believe is related to depression."

Patient Andrea Weigel said, "It's made a huge difference, and I know some people don't realize when you have depression, and it's severe depression, sometimes wanting to get up and take a shower every day and brush your teeth and get ready, it sounds like a little step, but it's a big step sometimes."

Weigel suffers from severe depression. She's undergone Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, and says TMS is much easier on her. The only side effect is a small headache. "It's really helped to get things accomplished throughout the day and do the things I really want to do and need to do," she said.

Stone said, “What I've noticed is that edge that was always nagging and kind of dragging me down or made me edgy, whatever the case may be, that's gone."

Most insurance plans cover TMS. The FDA approved it to treat depression ten years ago.

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