4 O'Clock Focus: New depression treatment making impact - WSMV Channel 4

4 O'Clock Focus: New depression treatment making impact

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Millions of dollars are spent each year on medication aimed at curbing depression, but there is a new device that is not only helping people but curing them altogether.

The treatment was approved for U.S. back in 2008, but some are now calling it a miracle cure.

More than 18 million Americans deal with the symptoms of depression each day.

"I call it being sucked into the black vortex. That's how deep in despair you get," patient Merry Weis said.

Weis has been in one form of treatment or another for depression her entire life, with only brief periods of measured success.

"I didn't know how to feel joy. I could never say, 'I'm happy,'" she said.

But in July, Weis tried a new treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation. In just four weeks, her brain has begun firing on all cylinders.

"It's just miraculous to be able to feel, to feel joy and happiness. I cannot remember being happy," Weis said.

Doctors use a machine which applies magnetic energy to the brain in a treatment many are calling the wave of the future when it comes to battling depression.

"We get connections regrowing, all the way from the front of the brain to the deeper brain structures. And we're able to restore the brain to proper working order. This is something brand new that we've never been able to do before," Psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Sparks-Bushnell said.

One mother said the machine even restored movement for her daughter, who was suffering from chronic pain.

"For the first time in almost four years, her thumb moved," mother Gail Bivens said.

Though it is only approved for depression in the U.S., doctors see the magnets as having unlimited potential for other treatments.

"The ability of this technology to modulate the brain is only limited by being able to identify regions of the brain that correspond to different illnesses that need to be helped," Sparks-Bushnell said.

The TMS treatment is being used for post traumatic stress disorder overseas.

The Sparks Clinic is working with the Wounded Warrior Project to find someone who might interested in trying the new therapy this spring.

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