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Depression is often treated with medication and patients can often find relatively fast relief. It can be difficult to treat, however, because it often appears in combination with other mental disorders. As clinicians attempt to treat the patient with the entire mental health picture in mind, the symptoms can become complicated to treat.

For some patients, traditional therapies do not work. In those cases, much research is being done involving the possibility of using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which has been examined in over 30 separate scientific studies.

A new study has been conducted to test TMS in a clinical practice setting, providing information about how the treatment would work in the real world. Lead author Linda Carpenter, M.D. is chief of the Mood Disorders Program and the Neuromodulation Clinic at Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

Carpenter explains that the study is naturalistic in design and provides insight into the real-life outcomes experienced by patients in a clinical practice setting. While the previous studies gave ample information for FDA consideration, the current study informs public policy decisions and the allocation of resources.

Published in a recent issue of the journal Depression and Anxiety, the study observed outcomes with TMS treatment in various clinics scattered across the United States. This allowed them to record the outcomes and effects associated with the therapy.

The study showed that TMS was effective in treating patients across a variety of settings in patients that have not found relief with traditional treatment options.

The study involved 42 practice locations and data from 307 individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Each of these patients had a history of symptoms without effective treatment using traditional methods to address depression.

The study authors recorded the clinicians’ ratings of severity of depression and scores on self-evaluation scales completed by the patients every two weeks. The self-evaluation scales allowed each patient to provide severity measures on every individual symptom.

The study’s results reveal similar outcomes to those measured in controlled clinical trials, said Carpenter. The findings provide additional support to the use of TMS for patients who have not had success with the use of traditional treatments.

The use of TMS may provide an additional option for those who have depression that is difficult to treat, or for those who have additional medical or psychological health problems that make it a more complicated treatment process.

The use of TMS may become a more frequent choice in standard clinical practice when other types of therapy are not effective. Previous studies have also shown significant improvement with the use of this therapy for those who have not found relief with medications.

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