TMS therapy offers hope for senior adults with depression

Late-life depression (LLD) is a frequent complication of the aging process, occurring in up to 5% of senior adults and in a higher proportion of subjects with coexistent medical illnesses.

The average senior adult is taking over 5 prescription medications per day, with the amount rising significantly for those who are ambulatory and in nursing homes. There is an imperative need to develop new treatment strategies for LLD, primarily with non-medication treatments. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are a safe, FDA-cleared and a Medicare covered service.

At the Clinical TMS Society Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Sutton Place TMS presented data showing the efficacy of TMS therapy in treating those ages 65 and older.

Clinical Results of Forty-Two Senior Adults:

Forty-two senior adults' mental health progress was tracked over a 6-week period while receiving TMS therapy for depression. The average patient age was 72 and 64% were diagnosed with severe depression. Of the forty-two patients, 69% had a significant improvement in symptoms and 59.5% were shown to achieved remission.

According to Alan Manevitz M.D., co-medical director of Sutton Place TMS and co-author, "We need to have better alternatives for the senior adult with depression. Adding another medication that may interact with medications for physical ailments is clearly not the best answer." TMS therapy is an excellent alternative."

The clinical results also appear to show that TMS is as effective in the senior adult as it is in non-senior adults. James Halper M.D., lead author on the poster, revealed that the results showed that TMS therapy is well tolerated by senior adults with no adverse events. "I was not surprised at how well the senior adult tolerated and responded to TMS therapy. TMS is proven to treat resistant depression effectively with a very strong tolerance and safety record. This study underlies the efficacy of TMS therapy, as a non-drug treatment, avoiding addition drug interaction concerns.

Major Finding of the Clinical Results:

  1. Most patients were covered by MEDICARE and secondary insurance.
  2. TMS administered in the Senior Adult population, many with comorbid medical disorders, is well tolerated and safe.
  3. TMS avoids the potential danger of drug interaction, which is particularly prominent in the LLD population.
  4. Those whose depressive symptoms respond to TMS, also have a 4 in 5 chances of gaining significant improvement in anxiety symptoms.
  5. Treating the Senior Adult has expanded the awareness of overall mental health concerns through education of Senior Adult caregivers, spouses, children, and aids.

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