A rarely used treatment for severe depression is showing promising signs.
Ruth Rogers, a Vancouver nurse practitioner, is one of only a handful of health care providers using a process called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, to successfully treat medication-resistant depression.
The machine, which resembles a dentist's chair, delivers magnetic pulses to a patient's pre-frontal cortex.
"In major depression, that area becomes hypoactive. The activity dies down and the neurons aren't firing," said Rogers. "The magnetic pulse kind of enervates those neurons and gets them firing again."
Rogers opened her doors at Serenity TMS in June, and said she has so far successfully treated about a dozen patients.
"We haven't had anybody yet who hasn't had a response. Everybody's had a significant positive response," said Rogers.
Kelley Carlson, who came to Rogers with crippling depression, had previously unsuccessfully tried several different medications.
Carlson said his wife started noticing a difference in his behavior about halfway through his course of treatment.
"I was in good spirits, joking around. And when she brought that up to me is when I actually started noticing, you know, you're right," said Carlson. "It was life-changing."
Rogers said her treatments are non-invasive, and safe, with little or no side effects.
The treatments are covered by most insurance companies, but usually only after patients try at least four medications without success.
Rogers said TMS treatment offers patients a 30 percent chance of full remission from symptoms, and a 50 percent chance of significant improvement.
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