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Butler Hospital
Butler Hospital

Press Release

Newly Approved, Non-invasive Treatment for Depression Available at Butler Hospital

Providence, RI, December 1, 2008: Butler Hospital is one of the first hospitals in the country to offer Neurostar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a ground-breaking treatment for depression recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

With the new treatment, an electronic device beams magnetic pulses through the skull to trigger small electrical charges that stimulate the brain in a region thought to be involved in depression. The FDA has approved the Neurostar TMS Therapy, which is given by a series of non-invasive treatments while patients are awake, for those whose depression did not improve after taking one antidepressant medication. In clinical trials, patients had been treated with multiple medication treatment attempts, one of which was considered adequate in dose and duration. Over 50 percent of such patients who received Neurostar TMS Therapy showed marked improvement, and the treatments were well tolerated without the side effects commonly associated with antidepressant medications.

During Neurostar TMS Therapy, patients sit in a chair that resembles something one might find at a dentist office. An MRI-strength magnet is positioned near the patient’s scalp on the left side, aimed at the prefrontal cortex. Everyone’s brain is different; so physicians first locate the patient’s motor control region, and then adjust the positioning of the magnet in small increments to locate the proper position. Researchers believe that targeting these brain cells in the prefrontal cortex creates an electrical chain reaction, stimulating areas of the brain that control mood. The treatment sessions each take about 30 minutes and are recommended five times a week for up to six weeks.

The concept of magnetic stimulation of the brain is not new. It has been used in research to unravel the secrets of how the brain works, but the use of TMS to treat depression is revolutionary. Butler Hospital has been at the forefront of new developments in the field of neuromodulation treatment of depression, having participated in groundbreaking studies of deep brain stimulation (DBS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

“TMS is a safe and non-invasive option that offers hope to patients who have depression, but have not responded to medication,” says Linda Carpenter, MD, chief of the mood disorders program and neuromodulation clinic at Butler Hospital. “This treatment carries less risk than electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or other neuromodulation treatments that require surgery.” Throughout the clinical trials, the procedure was proven very safe, with the only side effects reported being mild to moderate headaches.

Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans from 15 to 44 years old, affecting approximately 14.8 million adults, or 6.7 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (June 2008). Approximately one third of patients experience remission from depressive symptoms after trying an antidepressant drug at a high enough dose for a sufficient duration.

The flagship hospital in Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, Butler Hospital is a major research center, which has earned a national reputation for its work in the area of mood disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders, and nicotine addiction. More information on Butler Hospital and its services can be obtained by calling 401-455-6265, or by visiting www.butler.org.

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