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Magnetic brain stimulator touted as treatment for depression

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Taking in the good times at the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting, Wired caught wind of a new type of device that psychiatrists think will be effective in treating tough cases of depression. The devices employ a technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation, which sends an electromagnetic pulse two to three centimeters into the brain, stimulating prefrontal cortex and paralimbic blood flow, which in turn increases the serotonin output as well as the dopamine and norepinephrine functions. Previously, that technique required patients to go under anesthesia, but these new devices will apparently make it possible for the procedure to be done right in the psychiatrist's office, with the patient able to go home immediately afterward. According to Wired, some ten companies are already planning to manufacture the devices, which will apparently come in a variety of forms including a handheld unit (seen above) and a "cap" resembling a beauty-parlor hair dryer. In addition to depression, the devices have apparently also shown some promise in treating migraines, although that's reportedly still being tested.

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