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UCLA Offers New Strategies to Defeat Depression

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By Dr. Andrew Leuchter 

UCLA Health offers innovative approaches for treatment of depression that doesn’t improve with medications. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive therapy that “resets” the brain’s neural circuits, produces impressive results, and new techniques developed at UCLA Health can relieve symptoms of depression in as quickly as one week.  

TMS applies a series of gentle electromagnetic pulses to targeted areas of the brain. This stimulation enhances neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to form new nerve cell connections and escape the negative patterns of mood disorders. 

TMS is fundamentally different from medications. In depression, brain circuits can become stuck in recurrent negative feedback loops. By stimulating mood-regulating networks, TMS can essentially “rewire” those circuits and promote recovery from depression. 

TMS traditionally involves daily weekday treatments for six to eight weeks, with each session lasting 10-45 minutes. TMS therapy is a covered benefit under most insurance, and approximately two-thirds of patients treated at UCLA Health get substantial relief from depression.

UCLA Health’s TMS program has pioneered a “precision” approach, individualizing treatment to help even more patients recover from depression. Patients see a psychiatrist at every visit who monitors their progress and refines treatment as necessary. MRIs can be used to target specific areas of the brain and produce optimal results based on each patient’s symptoms. The program is also conducting research to improve outcomes by identifying the ideal stimulation frequency for each individual using an electroencephalogram (EEG). 

In an exciting development, UCLA TMS now is offering an accelerated approach treatment in which patients receive five sessions a day for five days. Although this “five-by-five” approach is not yet covered by insurance, initial results indicate that it helps many patients recover from depression in as quickly as one week. UCLA Health offers TMS at clinics in Pasadena, Calabasas and Westwood. 

 TMS also can relieve symptoms of other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), chronic pain, tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ear) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

TMS has an excellent safety record. Side effects, including discomfort at the site of stimulation, mild headaches, and fatigue, usually resolve after the first few treatments.

For more information about TMS therapy at UCLA Health, visit tmslosangeles.com/tms-transcranial-magnetic-stimulation, call 310 825-7471 or send an e-mail to UCLATMS@mednet.ucla.edu.    The UCLA Calabasas TMS clinic is located at UCLA Health Primary & Specialty Care, 26585 W. Agoura Road, Suite 330, Calabasas, CA 91302.   

To read more about Dr. Leuchter please visit uclahealth.org/providers/andrew-leuchter.


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