Magnet therapy helps reduce depression

By Sheryl Kay • Published: August 16th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Those accustomed to more traditional forms of healing might not be attracted to magnet therapy, but new research shows real promise with the approach, particularly in the battle against depression.

Referred to as transcranial magnetic stimulation, the technology involves zapping patients with a pulsing electromagnetic coil that is aimed at the brain. The coil produces a magnetic field that passes through the skull, stimulating an electrical current in the brain. The current is believed to jumpstart the left prefrontal cortex, which has been shown to be underactive in people who are depressed.

In a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, almost two-hundred adults were split into two equal groups. All had been depressed for at least three months, and all had taken medication that didn’t relieve the depression. The first group received the magnet therapy treatment, which most often resulted in a head-tapping sensation for participants. The second group served as the control, receiving a treatment that also resulted in the head-tapping feeling; however, a metal piece below the magnet blocked the magnetic field from penetrating the brain.

Three weeks later, all participants were evaluated for symptoms of depression. Fourteen percent of people in the magnet therapy group were no longer depressed, while only five percent in the control group felt better. For the next three weeks the magnet therapy was offered to both groups. The end result? About thirty percent of all the participants no longer felt depressed.

Researchers say further studies will evaluate new applications of the magnetic beam.

Getting zapped with a magnetic beam may sound strange, but if it helps and is safe, this unusual therapy may just be worth a shot.