New treatment for depression cleared by Food and Drug Administration

Patients resistant to anti-depressant medication find success with transcranial magnetic stimulation


WINTER PARK, Fla. – Statistics show nearly one in 10 adults in the United States suffer from depression.  And many patients often find anti-depressant medications do not work for them.

"It felt like every day was a struggle to get up and get out of bed," said Kelsey Pop who has suffered from depression since she was a teenager.  I have a wonderful family, life, great job, great life, but there was just something wrong."

She changed jobs, went back to school, and she tried different medications -- dozens of different medications.

"No medicine has ever worked where I felt normal, like a normal person," said Pop.

All that has changed since she discovered transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS.

"It kind of feels like a little pecking," Pop described as she sat in a chair with a small helmet attached to her head, with what sounded like zapping.

That pecking, as described by Pop, is actually her brain being stimulated by an electromagnetic coil.  Forty times in 4 seconds the part of her brain that regulates mood is sparked into action.

"It is speeding the brain up. It's specifically increasing activity in the area of the brain that depression has slowed down," explained Dr. Scott Farmer, who's worked in the mental health field for more than two decades and now runs the TMS Therapy Clinic in Winter Park.

Farmer says TMS is meant for patients like Pop for whom medication has failed.

Each time the machine pops it's sending an electromagnetic pulse into the brain targeting the area that regulates mood.

Much like medications are supposed to do, the pulses stimulate the release of neurotransmitters, in essence re-charging that area of the brain into action.

"No treatment is 100 percent," said Farmer.

But he says he's seen improvement in more than half of the 20 patients he's treated since he opened his office in July.

"For the first time in my life I've been depression-free. My family notices, my husband notices, my coworkers notice. It's mind-boggling. It's so awesome that there's something out there," said Pop.

The treatment is outpatient, but does require five visits a week for four to six weeks.

The cost ranges from $7,500 to $11,000.

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But if all medications have failed, insurance companies are beginning to cover the procedure.