Some Spanish hospitals have started to use an innovative non-invasive technique, known as deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, which has been reported to be useful in the treatment of depression. In 2008, it was cleared by the FDA for treating patients. In Europe, it was first approved in October 2014 for treating drug-resistant depression, as well as OCD, multiple sclerosis and brain stroke.

Currently, there are in Spain two million people suffering from depression, and about 2.5% of them do not respond to any pharmacological treatment years after having started it, they are therefore considered to suffer from resistant depression. The new method is based on the application of little energy pulses, similar to those produced by magnetic resonance, on the skull through padded headphones, to penetrate simultaneously to the surface and in the depth of the brain, normalizing the neurotransmitter activity. The new deep transcranial magnetic stimulation technique, as opposed to the conventional technique, has a tri-dimensional impact, through the coils in the headphones, on the nodes affected by the disorder, restoring the reward circuit that has been altered by the persistent depression.

Suffering from a severe depression is related to neuronal plasticity, that is to say, with the brain’s ability to create new nerve cell connections, in response to new information received, sensory stimulation, development, dysfunction or damage. When investigating neuroplasticity, also known as brain wiring renewal, it has been noted how new neurons go to the more used areas of the brain, which demonstrates the brain’s ability to shape the mind. These advances in the knowledge of the brain have been essential for the development of the deep transcranial magnetic stimulation technique.

Several research studies prove that deep transcranial magnetic stimulation benefits the treated patients with severe depression, either because they become symptom-free six months after finishing the treatment or because they present a clear improvement, understood as the reduction of the number of drugs needed to control the disease.

 


Source:  Qingrong Tan.Efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the prevention of relapse of depression: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials journal.2013. Disponible en: http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/14/1/338