The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had an article (Link) this morning about a trial going on at Washington University using rTMS for postpartum depression. Only four patients have been treated at this point, but all four had resolution of their symptoms.
Within a few days after receiving her first treatment in February with the device, Meinert said she began to feel better. After two weeks, her symptoms were gone.
"It honestly was incredible. I was shocked to be feeling that well after two weeks," Meinert said. "I was feeling like my old self, and I still feel great today."One of the points that this article makes is that standard antidepressants take up to four weeks to work. And in reality they may take longer... In addition there are a number of less than savory side effects that are fairly common with these drugs including " diarrhea, dry mouth, lethargy, nervousness, a bad taste in the mouth and loss of libido...". The author is obliquely getting at a point that I have mentioned before: maybe rTMS is a better starting point than the typical antidepressants that we currently reach for. Fewer side effects, potentially less cost, fewer interactions with other medications, the list could go on.
Another interesting point brought up is that the TMS unit used in this study was made by Neuronetics, the outfit that is working on getting an FDA indication for TMS and depression. This will be the first FDA indication for the transcranial application of TMS (currently it is my understanding that it is only approved for peripheral nerve stimulation). The word on the street is that Neuronetics should be getting this indication relatively soon, but that has been the word for several years.
All of the politics of the FDA and their approval process aside, it is my opinion (and just like every opinion out there, you can take it with a grain of salt..) that this is a major step forward in our options to clinically induce neuroplasticity and make a positive difference in the quality of someone's life.