Magnet therapy helps with depression

Published: Feb. 22, 2019 at 7:53 PM EST
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It's common to be depressed in the wintertime, but for some, it's a problem that doesn't go away when the sun shines.

Depression affects more than 16 million adults every year.

News 10's Mallory Anderson shows us a non-invasive treatment that uses magnets to provide relief.

Soyna Kibbee has a full life. She works as a physical therapist, is raising two sons and enjoys weekly pickleball games with a group at her church.

But last year, a bout of severe depression stopped her in her tracks.

"I'd get to where I'd have trouble making decisions. Just dumb little decisions that we make and don't even think about, I have to think about. And then it just gets me more stressed out," Kibbee said.

Even with medication and therapy, Kibbee was hospitalized multiple times last year as she tried to handle her depression and thoughts of suicide.

Then she heard about a treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS.

"This coil delivers powerful magnetic pulses to target the part of the brain associated with mood," said Dr. Muaid Ithman, a psychiatrist who runs the TMS program at University of Missouri Health Care. "These pulses will stimulate neurotransmitters, which are the chemical signals which will improve the communication between different regions of the brain that are responsible for mood regulations. And, over time, this will improve the symptoms of depression."

It feels like someone gently tapping on your head, which can cause a headache. Kibbee took an over-the-counter pain reliever before her daily, 20-minute treatments.

After just one week, she said she noticed a real difference.

"During that second week, I went and got a haircut and I just felt so much better," she said.

After more than 30 treatments, her symptoms of depression almost disappeared.

"Basically, 50%-60% of people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression will see a clinically meaningful response to TMS. And one-third of those people will go into remission, which means their symptoms completely go away," Ithman said.

Kibbee was able to go back to work and get back to the activities and friends she enjoys.

The treatment is recommended for people like Kibbee who don't find relief with medication and therapy. It is generally covered by insurance.