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Magnetic helmet provides treatment option for patients with depression

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) - For people suffering from clinical depression, some cannot tolerate or respond to drug medication. Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) could be the answer for their mental illness and it's now in full operation at a clinic in Salt Lake City.

Mark Peterson of West Valley City said he has suffered from depression for about 50 years.

"I'd just stare at walls, I couldn't get out of bed. I slept for 48 hours, I just couldn't do anything. I tried to work, I couldn't work. My dishes would sit in the sink for two months and I couldn't concentrate on anything. My life was bad," said Peterson.

He said he tried everything from drug medication and therapy, but nothing worked for him.

"I was in and out of psychiatric units, I lost three jobs, my marriage dissolved...not all because of that, but in many ways was contributed to by my depression," said Peterson.

Approximately six months ago, Peterson found Dr. Cindy Wasek at the Lotus Center Healing and Wellness in Salt Lake City and began undergoing Deep TMS. He said two months later, he started feeling better.

"I have never felt this well in my life, not even while I was taking medications before these last ten years," said Peterson. "It's literally like going out of darkness into light."

This is how it works - the doctor puts a cushioned helmet over the patient's head. The helmet releases brief magnetic fields at an amplitude similar to MRIs. Patients undergo 20-minute sessions daily in their psychiatrist's office for about four to five weeks.

"It's a way to mechanically cause a releasing of the neurotransmitters in your brain and those neurotransmitters are what regulate your mood," said Dr. Wasek, "Medications try to do that from a medical standpoint. But Deep TMS does it from a mechanical standpoint. So in the helmet, there's a electrical wire in the helmet that electricity goes through and when it runs through those wires, it produces a magnetic field of energy."

Dr. Wasek said Deep TMS is an outpatient procedure that does not require hospitalization or anesthesia. It does not cause memory loss or systemic side-effects. However, she said Deep TMS is FDA-approved for patients who have tried at least three other types of treatments or medications.

"Deep TMS patients are patients that are treatment-resistant, so they've had every other treatment medication-wise and therapy-wise and have not responded," said Dr. Wasek.

She said Deep TMS doesn't work for all of her patients, but it provides an additional option for patients who haven't had success with other forms of treatment.

"I'm a big believer in choices. One choice doesn't fit everybody. One treatment doesn't fit everybody. So to be able to have options, to choose in terms of what you want as far as your healthcare options, that's really what I try to provide here at the Lotus Center," said Dr. Wasek.

For more information about Deep TMS, click here.

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