New technology to treat depression hits our area

ROANOKE,Va. – Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Virginia ranks 42 out of 50 U.S. states in treating the form of mental illness. Now, there is a device that could help those suffering in the Roanoke Valley.

The Greenbrook Company in Roanoke recently purchased a new treatment just approved by the Food Drug Administration. It's called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. 
The first step is locating the proper area for treatment in the brain. 

“Once we find the right spot, where we find the most reaction for the patients, we will move 5 centimeters towards the area where the depression is centered,” said child and adult psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Iskandar. “This is where we target our treatment.”

Iskandar tells me the benefit of TMS is that it does not have the many side effects of some medications. 

“Psychcological medicine does work, and with a good percentage, but it causes a lot of side effects. TMS can produce a similar result without much side effects,” said Iskandar.

A typical treatment period last 30 minutes for five days per week for a total of four to six weeks. 

In each session, the device is placed on the patient's head and the patient receives up to 3,000 pulses. The treatment is said to be painless. 

Most major insurance companies have started covering the treatment and the Greenbrook company are looking to help educate more people in the area about this advancement.