Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy opens up 'whole new world' for patient

by: Michael Yoshida Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Action News Jax is following up to see if a new treatment for depression is working locally.

We initially reported on the first patient to use magnetic therapy at Baptist Health back in December.       

Since then, the number of patients receiving this treatment has grown.

We spoke to the doctor offering the treatment and a patient about how it works and the potential good it can do in the fight against depression.

This new form of magnet treatment happens in a small room with a chair that looks pretty similar to something you might find in a dentist’s office. The patient arrives, sits down, leans back and then the magnetic treatment begins with a few beeps and clicking noise.

It’s a sound that for 40 minutes, 5 days a week, Sandi Campbell would hear as she sat in the chair.

“It was intense. I called it the Woody Woodpecker therapy,” Campbell said.

Campbell just finished her sixth and final week of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS therapy. A treatment that the 72-year-old turned to after battling depression for most of her life.

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Dr. Shariq Refai performs the therapy at Baptist Behavioral Health.

“It treats major depressive disorder that is severe in nature for people who have had multiple medication failures,” Refai said.

When Refai first showed us the treatment back in December, his first patient was finishing the therapy, which creates a small magnetic field around the front of the brain.

“What that does is it basically initiates release of the chemicals and allows for treatment,” Refai said.

A treatment that Refai has now done performed on around two dozen people. He said most have seen improvement.

“Probably out of those, maybe two have had failures,” Refai said.

Others like Campbell have seen a change. She said she’s stopped isolating herself, has gotten re-married and even gone on a cruise.

“I do have good and bad days, which the doctor said there would be, but there is hope out there for people who suffer from depression. To socialize with your friends laugh again. It's just like a whole new world has opened up,” Campbell said.

At Baptist Health, they can treat seven to eight patients a day. They say right now, there is no waiting list

TMS therapy can cost about $300 a session. Refai said it is covered by most insurance companies including Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and United.

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