Mercy Health Adds New Depression Treatment

YOUNGSTOWN – Mercy Health-Youngstown has added a new tool to its suite of behavioral health services: transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The technology, used to help with the treatment of depression, delivers magnetic pulses to the parts of the brain responsible for mood control. Patients having the procedure will sit in a chair while medical staff use a magnetic coil – similar to what’s used in an MRI machine – that delivers pulses to the brain. Sessions last up to about half an hour, according to Paige Eckman, quality operations program manager for Mercy, while treatment courses can last up to 36 weeks.

“Typically, patients that will seek this are ones that have tried talk therapy, tried group therapy, tried antidepressants. If you aren’t seeing progress you’d like and are looking for something else to try that isn’t medication, this is an alternative,” she says. “We’re hoping that this machine can help target that area and that major depressive symptoms will decrease so you manage them appropriately.”

The treatment was invented in the 1980s and approved by the FDA in 2008. TMS, says Mercy Health psychiatrist Dr. Lewis Spirtos, can serve as a supplement to other forms of treatment.

“For people who have failed two adequate trials with oral antidepressant medications, this can be an augmentation therapy. It’s something we’d add to medication or offer independently,” he said.

Someone with depression can get a referral through his psychiatrist or primary care physician, as well as by calling 330 480 3109.

“Anyone in the community is able to get a referral because they’ve been seen by a psychiatrist and it’s decided [this program] is appropriate,” Eckman says. “Because we have behavioral health resources here already, we thought it’d be a great idea to add this additional service.”

Pictured: TMS treatment uses an electromagnetic coil, seen above the chair, to deliver small magnetic pulses to the parts of the brain that control mood.