Depressed? Here’s a good news

BANGALORE: What happens to your brain when a magnetic field 40,000 times than that of the Earth is passed through it? Something disastrous certainly. What about enduring it to cure depression?

With the number of people suffering from major depression on the rise in India and Karnataka, neuropsychiatrists at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) have introduced Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the latest technique to treat the depressed and altering their mood for the better.

So far, the methods to treat depression were either through drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or yoga. “Drugs have their side-effects – reduction of appetite, loss of weight, vascular headaches and sexual dysfunction in males are some common ones,” said Dr B N Gangadhar, head of psychiatry, NIMHANS.

While ECT requires anaesthesia or analgesics, TMS has no adverse side-effects except occasional mild headaches and discomfort at the site of stimulation.

During TMS, electromagnetic coils are placed on the scalp and focussed magnetic pulses generated at the surface of the brain. The magnetic field has a strength of about 40,000 times that of the earth’s magnetic field. The proximity of the brain and the time varying results in flow of electricity in the neural tissue.

“Technological advances can today help magnetic stimulation produce sufficient current in the brain to result in neurological depolarisation,” said Dr Gangadhar. Usually the magnetic stimulation is given around six to eight times during one session. The number of sessions varies for each individual.

Patients being treated with TMS at NIMHANS have shown good signs of recovery. It is important to remember that TMS may not be a stand-alone treatment for all patients with depression.
What is depression?

Depression is a state of the brain in which neuro transmitters become dysfunctional, brain activity reduces and fewer transmitters are released. The functioning of the brain’s left side is lower compared to the right side. This impacts the electro-physiological rhythm of the body and affects sleep; cardiac rhythm impacts the health of the heart, sexual and personality disorders.

Screen test Department of Psychiatry, New York University has an online test to assess if your mood swings, irritability are signs of depression .

Source: The Times Of India

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