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Ed Yeates Reporting Imagine sitting back comfortably in a chair while a magnet reverses any symptoms of clinical depression. Sounds like quackery, doesn't it? Not so says the Food and Drug Administration.
The treatment is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Radiant Research Group is among 16 university and private testing sites in the country about to begin full scale clinical trials of a weird looking device.
It has an electronic magnet that simply transmits subtle pulses through the brain. Inside the brain, the magnetic waves activate a series of neurons, producing the anti depressive response.
The FDA-approved clinical trials will take volunteers through one 45 minute treatment per day, five days a week, for six weeks. Centers will enroll people like Christina Heath whose condition has never responded well to medications.
In fact, electrical shock treatment, or ECT, is currently the only thing that keeps her depression free.
Christina Heath: “It literally gave me my life back. Before that time I couldn’t function.”
James Ferguson, M.D., Ph.D., Radiant Research Group.: "This very difficult, demoralized group of patients that have tried Prozac, Ephexer, a variety of drugs, and nothing has worked very well."
Patients sitting in the chair require no anesthetic. The treatment is painless.
Fares Arguello, M.D., Psychiatrist: "There doesn't seem to be any ongoing memory loss from this treatment. The risk of seizures is very very low."
In Europe where doctors have used the device for years, some patients remain depression free for up to a year before needing booster treatments.