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Woman's hard-to-treat depression improved with magnetic field treatment

Magnetic field treatments gave a woman with hard-to-treat depression a new lease on life.

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Jenna Bierma thought she’d exhausted most options for managing her depression, which her sister also had before dying by suicide at age 24.

"I've tried everything with depression. I’ve tried every medication, every treatment that's out there," Bierma said.

Dr. Vidhya Selvaraj is a psychiatrist at Omaha Insomnia & Psychiatric Services who used magnetic fields to treat Bierma's depression.

The process is known as transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS.

"They feel hopeless," Selvaraj said. "They lose interest in things they used to enjoy. they don't feel motivated. They can't focus. They can't concentrate. The severe depression can lead to people wanting to end it all."

But with TMS, she said she typically sees results within two weeks of treatments.

For Bierma, a star student whose depression often kept her in bed, it’s made a world of difference.

"Being able to get out of bed like I am, go see my friends, go to school, go to work every day and enjoy it, I can't even describe it," she said.

The process sends quickly pulsing magnetic fields to activate nerve cells in the brain. It sounds intense, but it’s actually non-invasive.

"It's just kind of tapping on your head," Bierma described. "It's a magnetic coil, is what it is. It doesn't hurt. There's no side effects."

With the success of the treatment, she began looking to the future, taking her last courses so she could attend pharmacy school.

"But I'm excited," Bierma said. "I was always afraid to make big goals. Just afraid of failure and not knowing what the world was going to bring. It's just been amazing."

That's all Selvaraj could ask for.

"I want patients to feel empowered hearing this," she said. "There is hope. There is treatment and they can have a normal life."



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