Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) - Martha Rhodes has lived with depression since she was a teenager. Anti-drepressants and therapy were her prescribed treatment.
"It's a dark feeling," Rhodes said. "It's when you wake up every morning and you think I wish I wasn't here. It's where you don't care about your life."
Despite a loving husband, two children and in otherwise good health, Martha still could not connect the dots day to day.
"I was cautious but I was also down to no more cards," Rhodes said. "I was desperate."
Desperation brought her to the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital. The first to offer in Connecticut, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"It's the first major new treatment for depression in decades," psychiatrist John Goethe said. "The magnet goes on and off, very, very rapidly."
TMS sends magnetic pulses to the brain, stimulating nerve cells in the area linked to depression.
"When you pass a magnetic current in a certain way over living tissue, it creates an electrical current and you locate it in a precise position, you can stimulate an electrical current in a particular brain circuit," Dr. Goethe said
Patients undergo daily stimulations across four to six weeks.
"You feel a very intense tapping on this part of your scalp," Rhodes said. "You get used to it. It's intense but you do get used to it. The trick to this whole thing is trusting that you are going to be better."
Signs of improvement were slow but steady.
"I noticed that the music I was listening to was more upbeat," Rhodes said. "I noticed that I started singing to the music. Some people prefer this to medication. Some people would come to TMS even if they hadn't had a long history of depression. Life is easy now, its not the struggle that it was and believe me, when you have depression its like climbing a mountain every day of your life."
Dr. Goethe says the majority of patients do respond, but not all will have a full recovery.
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