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Depression MRI Treatment – Still in Infancy

21 May 2009 46 views No Comment
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MRI scans, as a method of treatment for depression was discovered accidentally. At some time, these scans were studied and led to serious research and finally a new cure for depression.

Brain scans are usually an unpleasant experience for most people. But this proved different for people who were suffering from bipolar disease. The story goes like this. Some researchers were trying to compare the brain chemistry of bipolar patients with normal people. While conducting a series of MRI scans, researchers noticed that those suffering from bipolar disease came out happier after coming out of the MRI scan machine. This caused them to change the course of their research and pursue a different hypothesis. They started to explore the affect that electromagnetic fields have on bipolar patients.

Bipolar patients tend to go in and out of depression without any logical or evident reason. The scientists therefore believed that it was possible that electromagnetic fields nudge a depressed brain back to normal. The primary results proved to be very encouraging with 77% of patients reporting that they felt better after scanning.

Studies conducted later have also been encouraging. The results of exposure to electromagnetic field were more prominent in those who were not taking any drugs for treating depression. Many patients reported that they felt a sense of joy for a period of 10 minutes to an hour. They also claimed that this was a feeling that they had stopped feeling due to their disorder. Serious research is now underway to determine whether trans-cranial magnetic stimulation can be of use for curing depression permanently.

One of the symptoms of depression that worry doctors the most is that it can lead to suicide. The breakthrough in MRI treatment for depression is being seen as a quick method to provide short term relief.

Experts are also contemplating an alternative to the expensive MRI equipment to make this treatment more accessible. Equipment manufacturers are developing desktop models of the same electromagnetic field and testing the new device. Another option under consideration is a double loop wand. This wand is likely to be in the shape of the figure eight. The two coils of the wand are intended to generate a strong magnetic field to generate electric current through the brain cells. Such a device will allow patients to receive quick relief in the doctor’s office and, sometimes, even at home.

The accidental discovery has obviously indicated to all, that there are still more avenues in medication that need to be explored. It has also vindicated the stand taken by alternative therapies. Magnetic therapy has long been advocated as part of treating depression naturally by proponents of holistic treatment. Due to the fact that conventional medication can create many side effects, there is a crying need for developing alternatives to conventional drug treatment. Trans-cranial stimulation is another type of natural remedies for depression that can play an important role in providing temporary relief till the time its long term efficacy is established.





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