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Press Release: Novel Brain Stimulation Technique Shows Promise in Patients with Hard-to-Treat Depression

DENVER, Nov. 29, 2023 — By making slight modifications to an already approved
brain stimulation technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), researchers have
reported profound improvement in patients with hard-to-treat depression. Overall, 66% of
patients with major depressive disorder who took part in the study responded to the novel
treatment.

This is significantly higher than the 29% response rate reported for the standard FDA-approved protocol and also better than the response rates reported for alternative evidence-based protocols.

“The findings are significant, particularly for patients who have tried other treatments and not
seen desired results,” said Sabrina Segal, Ph.D., Director of Research at Family Care Center, who
led the study, which was recently published in Brain Stimulation Journal, a publication focused
on the field of brain stimulation techniques and research.


She added, “Our TMS protocol reduced patient symptoms considerably more than other
approaches and with virtually no side effects.” Only 30-50% of patients experience full recovery
or remission when treated with psychotherapy or medication. Even when medications do work,
they can sometimes cause side effects ranging from weight gain to sexual dysfunction, and in
some cases, can actually make depression symptoms worse.


Patients who try several types of therapy unsuccessfully are often considered treatment-resistant, especially those who suffer from major depressive disorder, a problem so pervasive
that it’s considered the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health
Organization.

“This is a global epidemic,” said Dr. Segal. “Simply put, we need more effective treatment
options, and that’s where TMS can make an impact.”


During the trial, more than three dozen patients underwent TMS to a region in the front left
portion of the brain. It’s a technique that’s already approved by the FDA for the treatment of
major depressive disorder; however, it has only been shown to offer a meaningful reduction in
depression symptoms in about 29% of patients.


“We took that approach a step further,” said Charles L. Weber, DO, FASAM, Chief Medical Officer
and Founder of Family Care Center. “What we did was follow up the more traditional
stimulation of 15 minutes to the left side of the brain, with three minutes of high frequency,
short bursts of stimulation to an area in the right side of the brain.”


He added, “This type of stimulation to the right side has been associated with improvements in
symptoms related to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A couple of recent
studies have demonstrated a reduction in depressive symptoms in older adults; however, this is
the first study to show the effectiveness of the right-side stimulation on reduction of depressive
symptoms in younger adults.”


The fact that two out of three patients showed a response to this approach and nearly half had
acute remission is made more encouraging by the fact that most patients in this study suffered
from other conditions as well, such as anxiety and PTSD.


“There is much more research needed in those areas, but given our initial success, we’re
optimistic about the potential, particularly given their demographics,” said Dr. Segal.
The study consisted of patients whose mean age was 42.5 years, more than 20 years younger
than recent similar studies that used TMS to evaluate the impact on patients with so-called
late-life depression.


Developing new therapies for younger patients could help them find effective treatments
much earlier in life, significantly reduce lost productivity and the cost of failed therapies, and
could potentially become an option for younger veterans, in particular, millions of whom 
struggle to find effective therapies to treat PTSD.


Before the study began, each patient charted their symptoms using a standard scale, with zero
being no symptoms and 27 representing the most severe. At the outset, patients had a mean
score of 18.18. During the course of the trial, symptoms improved to a mean score of 10.29, and
by the end of the study, they had been cut by more than half at just over 8, with many
achieving acute remission.


“We are making huge strides in understanding how TMS works, but we’re still just scratching
the surface,” said Dr. Segal. “Hopefully, this could someday become a first-line therapy for
millions who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses and spare them the devastating toll they
often take on their lives.”


About Family Care Center
Family Care Center is one of the nation’s leading providers of mental health services and is
dedicated to making a positive impact on the well-being of local communities. Their top-rated,
multi-specialty clinicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based care that yields lasting
positive results for patients of all ages. In addition to individual, couples and family therapy, as
well as psychiatric services, Family Care Center leads in transcranial magnetic stimulation
(TMS), an innovative treatment for depression and more. Family Care Center is one of the
fastest-growing providers of mental health in the United States. With nearly 25 outpatient
locations across Colorado, Tennessee and Texas, they continue to expand nationally in
collaboration with Revelstoke Capital Partners.