Nightingale Hospital launches Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Service for Depression

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Nightingale Hospital today announced the launch of a Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) service. Nightingale is the first hospital in the UK to offer this treatment, and the first to be using the very latest ‘H’ coil technology. rTMS has been fully licensed by the FDA in the USA since 2008, and is routinely used to treat depression in many first class international hospitals (e.g. Johns Hopkins Hospital, USA). Furthermore, it is increasingly used across Scandinavian and other European countries and is now covered by many international healthcare insurance companies.

rTMS is the latest effective, non-invasive, non-pharmacological, outpatient treatment for depression. It works by targeting short magnetic pulses over the scalp to produce electrical currents in specific brain regions that regulate mood. In extensive trials across 20 global centres it has proven its efficacy, particularly for the third of patients that have failed to respond to cognitive therapy and drug treatments.

Approximately a third of patients with depression do not respond to medication or psychological therapy. They consequently have to endure its debilitating effects on their lives. Many patients also find they cannot tolerate the side effects of medication, which can include poor sleep, weight gain, and reduced sex drive. For these patients, rTMS is a significant treatment option. Unlike with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), no anesthesia is required, there is no memory loss, and normal activities can be resumed straight after treatment. The treatment can also be used in conjunction with medication and talking therapies.

The magnetic pulses increase prefrontal and limbic function within the brain, which supports functions including emotion, behaviour, motivation and long-term memory, to relieve depression. Some studies indicate that rTMS also increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, helping to push more “feel good” chemicals round the brain.

Dr Michael Craig, lead consultant psychiatrist of the service said: “Nightingale Hospital is offering the very latest in rTMS technology to its patients – the H coil, developed following research at the National Institute of Mental Health, USA, has been reported to be significantly more effective than previous models. Trials have shown that even in patients who failed to respond to 1-2 anti-depressants, almost 40% of patients have been found to get better in proper randomised controlled trials.”

Martin Thomas, Managing Director of Nightingale Hospital said: “We are very excited to be launching this new service and to be the first hospital in the UK to deliver this proven treatment. Depression can be a debilitating condition, and rTMS is a significant treatment option for patients. Nightingale Hospital continues to be committed to delivering the latest evidence based treatments and the very highest levels of psychiatric care to patients.”

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