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Transcranial magnetic stimulation shows promise for PTSD

A pilot study at the White River Junction (Vt.) VA Medical Center found that Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder benefited from a treatment known as transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. In TMS, a magnetic coil in the shape of a figure-eight is held against specific areas of the brain to stimulate the underlying neurons. The treatment, developed in Europe in the 1980s, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for depression, and it is now being explored for other conditions, including traumatic brain injury and PTSD. In the VA study, 20 Veterans with PTSD received either real or sham TMS treatments daily for 10 days. Those who received the actual TMS showed significant improvements in both core PTSD symptoms and related symptoms of depression. The benefits wore off slightly during a two-month follow-up period. The researchers plan further studies to explore what dose and frequency of TMS are most effective, and exactly which areas of the brain should be targeted. They say the work so far "supports the growing evidence for the effectiveness of repetitive TMS for the treatment of PTSD." (Brain Stimulation, January 2012).

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