Magnets have never been so attractive.
A new study finds that the emerging depression treatment I've been telling you about, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), can help beat even the toughest cases of depression.
Researchers randomly assigned 301 patients with major depression to either real TMS--a device with an electromagnetic coil that's placed over the head--or a sham therapy that looked just like the real thing, but with almost no magnetic intensity.
Most of those who received the real deal improved--often significantly, but that's where this study quickly falls apart... because the researchers stopped the treatments after six weeks and then quickly threw three weeks of antidepressant drugs into the mix.
More on that in a moment.
The researchers say 121 of the 142 patients who responded to TMS--85 percent--didn't experience a depression relapse during that three-week drug party.
Then, 99 of the patients agreed to a 24-week follow-up study. While 10 went into a full depression relapse, 38 patients who worsened were given additional TMS sessions--and 32 of them avoided relapse.
When all was said and done, 75 percent improved thanks to the treatments... including those post-TMS drugs.
Since the researchers didn't include a TMS-only group, we don't know what would have happened to these patients if they weren't given meds.
But if other studies are any indication, they would have improved just as dramatically without them.
The researchers say they included meds after the TMS treatments because it's "standard procedure" to prevent relapse.
But that's the same old "standard procedure" that has millions of depressed Americans hooked on ineffective drugs in the first place.
Sounds to me like we need to take "standard procedure" and toss it out the window--and TMS is a chance to do just that, because of all the alternative treatments for depression, it's quickly becoming the most accepted by the mainstream.
It even earned a mention in the new guidelines for depression treatment.
If you think TMS might be right for you, feel free to combine it with another treatment to help prevent your own relapse--but stick to proven nondrug alternatives, including exercise, talk therapy and St. John's wort.