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Unique treatment offers hope to those struggling with depression

Diagram of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (The Mayo Clinic website)

(WSET) - There's a unique treatment when traditional medications for depression don't work.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an FDA approved alternative to antidepressants.

Those with depression know it's more than just a rough patch.

Barb Blaschke says she's been depressed her whole life.

"I have been so depressed where I couldn't even get out of bed," she says.

Blaschke says aside from her mother and husband, she did not receive a lot of support.

"They look at it as a choice if you just look at the bright side of things your day would go better," she says.

Psychiatrist Megan Schabbing says more than half of those struggling with depression have not been diagnosed.

"Certainly major warning signs for depression would be any kind of thoughts of wishing you were dead even if they're passive thoughts," she says.

Schabbing says risk factors like divorce, death of a love one, or job loss can spark depression. For others, she says it's hereditary.

"A person can develop depression regardless out of the blue," Schabbing says.

Blaschke says her depression worsened with menopause and that traditional medication was not working anymore.

"I was just tired and down to my last line," she says.

Dr. Schabbing says many do not respond to anti-depressants or tolerate the side effects. She says some build up a resistance.

"it's very non-invasive and very localized in the way that it stimulates the brain ," Dr. Schabbing says about TMS.

The machine sends magnetic pulses to the brain on and off for nearly 40 minutes.

"If the mind is being actively engaged during treatment the treatment will be more effective," Dr. Schabbing says.

Blaschke began the treatment in February. She says her son saw a big difference at the wedding.

"Don't feel like you have to rely on the medication because those may not be the only way or the best way," Blaschke says.

According to a National Institute of Mental Health study in 2010, 14% of those who were treated with TMS achieved remission from their depression. The second round of their study saw the results rise to 30%.

The Johns Hopkins website says TMS "has been shown to be a safe and well-tolerated procedure that can be an effective treatment for patients with depression who have not benefitted from antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate antidepressant medications due to side-effects."

For more information about depression and various treatments, click here.

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