While they may seem effective, antidepressants can lead to a slew of adverse side effects including nausea, increased appetite, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. For many psychology experts, the race is on to find a more practical form of depression treatment that provides little to no consequences for patients. FDA-approved NeuroStar TMS Therapy could be the answer for the estimated four million Americans suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), who do not benefit from antidepressant medication.

"This pilot study supports the notion that maintenance TMS may be useful in the prevention of recurrence of major depression and is an important step in learning what the optimum treatment parameters will be," said Dr. Scott Aaronson, director of Clinical Research Programs and associate medical director at Sheppard Pratt, in a statement. "This preliminary information will help define an approach to TMS as a maintenance therapy as we extend our understanding of the long-term usefulness of TMS in the treatment of people with this debilitating illness."

Researchers from Neuronetics Inc., a privately owned medical device company, conducted a randomized study using the NeruoStar TMS Therapy to treat patients diagnosed with unipolar, non-psychotic MDD. Half of the patients included in the analysis who reported no benefit from a regimen of antidepressant medication were treated with the NeuroStar TMS Therapy for six weeks while the other half underwent monthly observations.

At the end of the six weeks of NeuoStar TMS Therapy treatment, 61.2 percent of patients experienced a remission of symptoms related to MDD. By three months, 62.5 percent of patients who received NeroStar TMS Therapy maintained a remission of depressive symptoms compared to 43.8 percent of patients who received no form of maintenance therapy.

"As evidenced by this first pharmacotherapy-free maintenance trial, Neuronetics is committed to investing in continued research efforts that provide validation of NeuroStar TMS Therapy, and which may help better our understanding of depression and improve patients' therapeutic outcomes," explained aid Dr. David Brock, Medical Director at Neuronetics.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, 6.7 percent of adults in the United States experience major depressive disorder each year. A review of published and unpublished clinical trials involving antidepressant use of nearly 4,400 children and adolescents conducted by the FDA revealed that four percent had thought about or attempted suicide. In light of the findings from this study, in 2005 the FDA adopted "black box" warning labels to alert the public about the potential risk of suicidal thinking among people who use antidepressant medication.

Source: Brock, D, et al. NeuroStar TMS Therapy Shows Promise As Maintenance Therapy For Major Depression. 167th American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. 2014.