Magnetic Brain Stimulator promises non-invasive depression treatment

Time to get serious for a moment. As anyone not living in a box is aware, depression and other brain-chemistry illnesses are a growing problem around the world, and all the standard treatments get mixed results. Now the FDA is reviewing the latest weapon against depression, a device called the Magnetic Brain Stimulator that's raising hopes of finding an effective, non-invasive treatment.

The brain stimulator, which the medical community hopes will be commercially available sometime next year, bears a resemblance to a blow-dryer, and it works by delivering an electromagnetic pulse directly to the parts of the brain that control mood. Think of it as an alternative to the controversial electro-convulsive therapy. It's delivered in a doctor's office but requires no anesthetic, and the patient can return home or to work immediately after a treatment.

There are some potential side effects, including headaches, twitches, and localized pain. Given that the device physically affects the brain, let's just hope — and I'm jumping out of serious mode to quote Get Smart here — that whoever gets their hands on a brain stimulator uses it for good and not evil.

Wired, via Ubergizmo