Depression can be treated without drugs for pregnant women

A drug-free way to treat depression could be a big breakthrough for pregnant women who are reluctant to take medication.

Besides the risk of suicide, depression during pregnancy can cause early delivery and preeclampsia, which is a form of dangerously high blood pressure.

Now, through a breakthrough pilot study, depressed moms-to-be are being treated with TMS.

TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, is an FDA approved treatment that uses the electromagnetic pulses of a powerful magnet to target the part of the brain involved in depression.

"It allows the brain cells to communicate better with each other and so if you can get those circuits to communicate, those neurons to communicate better with each other, the depression actually will improve," said psychiatrist Dr. Deborah Kim.

Women in the study get five treatments a week for a month.  Each session lasts 15 minutes. 

Dr. Kim says so far, 10 out of 10 women have seen improvement. Seven women say they are at least 50 percent better.  Three say they no longer feel depressed. The study is still ongoing. Final results won't be known for at least four years.

TMS has only been around for about five years. Any long-term effects are unknown.

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