Clinic offering magnet therapy treatment for people suffering from severe depression opens in Dublin
A new clinic in Dublin is offering an alternative treatment for patients suffering from severe depression - and it involves the use of magnets.
Smart TMS opened its fourth office, and its first in Ireland, bringing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) treatment to the island.
TMS targets specific areas of the brain using magnetic pulses to induce electrical currents, aiming to either stimulate or inhibit nerves which are linked to medical disorders.
CEO Gerard Barnes told Independent.ie that he first set the business up in the UK three years ago after seeing the benefits of the non-invasive treatment.
"TMS tech is widely available in America but much less so in the UK and not at all in Ireland," he said.
"Of all the patients that we treat, around two thirds will feel much better than they felt before.
"The exciting part about it is that it's a different recovery than with anti depressants. Patients feel well as oppose to less depressed, they become more animated."
TMS, which involves a daily treatment for between four and six weeks, is not a "cure" for depression as patients will need to keep taking their prescribed antidepressants - and may see fit to return for "top up" treatments.
But the evidence-based research data shows that the treatment does achieve success in people with depressive illnesses, according to Irish psychiatrist Dr Patricia Casey.
"The use of TMS in clinical practice is relatively new but it has been well established in neuroscience research and in the evaluation of certain neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease since its development," she said.
"Unlike ECT, there is no convulsion, no anaesthetic is required and it is a lot less traumatic for the patient.
While Dr Casey said that the alternative treatment for help those with difficult-to-treat depression have the option now to seek other treatments such as TMS, research material is scant enough and the cost of the sessions are quite high.
"TMS is in its infancy; Robust evidence for side effects and the benefits of TMS in addiction and other disorders should be made available. It is to be hoped that TMS treatment will be available to all who may benefit from it and not just the wealthy."
Mr Barnes acknowledged that the expense of TMS has meant that many patients may not be able to avail of it. The initial assessment cost is €250 and each session of treatment costs €150. The entire treatment could cost between €3500-€4000 as a whole.
"As we get better uptake and more clients, we hope to bring the costs down. We are reaching out to the Government and to private health providers to see if patients can be covered or re-imbursed in some way but we have not had much success as yet."
However, according to Mr Barnes, early adopters of the treatment here have had "very good results".
One such patient is Dublin-based Kaspars (33) who has suffered from depression, ADHD and social anxiety throughout his life.
Kaspars said he struggled to find work, had no job and wasn't able to form meaningful relationships with girlfriends. He said he tried multiple treatments including antidepressants - which were of some assistance - and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
He started TMS treatment in March and said he has had "ever-increasing positive effects and a very positive outlook on life" since completing the treatment.