Depression Magnets

Imagine sitting back comfortably, in a chair, while a magnet, reverses any symptoms of clinical depression. Sounds like quackery, doesn't it? Not so says the Food and Drug Administration.

Reliant Research Group is among 16 university and private testing sites in the country about to begin full-scale clinical trials of this weird looking device.

An electronic magnet simply transmits subtle pulses through the brain, so the concept basically what is happening inside the patient's head is similar to what's happening in my hand. As the magnetic pulses pass through the hand, notice the stimulation of the nerves.

Inside the brain, the magnetic waves activate a series of neurons, producing the anti-depressive response.

The FDA approved clinical trials will take volunteers through one 45-minute treatment per day, five days a week, for six weeks.

Centers will enroll people like Christina Heath here, whose condition has never responded well to medications.

In fact, electrical shock treatment, or ECT, is currently the only thing that keeps her depression free.

“It literally gave me my life back. Before that time, I couldn't function,” says Christina Heath.

Dr. James Ferguson of Reliant Research Group says, “This very difficult, demoralized group of patients that have tried Prozac, Ephexer, a variety of drugs, and nothing has worked very well.”

Patients sitting in the chair require no anesthetic. The treatment is painless.

Dr. Fares Arguello, psychiatrist, says, “There doesn't seem to be any ongoing memory loss from this treatment. The risk of seizures is very, very low.”

In Europe where doctors have used the device for years, some patients remain depression free for up to a year before needing booster treatments.