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A Promising Long-term Treatment Option for Depression

Near the end of the 18th century, French physician Pierre Pomme recommended chicken soup and cold baths for people with depression. Centuries later, options for care have come a long way — and Rush University Medical Center researchers have found evidence of a treatment that may take that progress even further.

A research study at Rush has found transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to be an effective long-term treatment option for major depression.

Antidepressant medications aren't always effective, and their side effects can be hard to tolerate, leaving many without alternatives for long-term care. TMS — a noninvasive technique that delivers magnetic field pulses to the brain's left prefrontal cortex — received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2008 as a safe and effective treatment for acute depression, but there had been limited information on its long-term benefits until Rush revealed its findings.

"This is the only maintenance, follow-up study that assesses the long-term effectiveness of TMS in patients with major depression," says Philip G. Janicak, MD, the study's principal investigator and a psychiatrist at Rush.

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