Specialists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) assist students suffering from depression and alcohol abuse disorders with an innovative, non-invasive method called transcranial magnetic stimulation, which complements psychological therapy and medications.
This technique, applied in the Faculty of Medicine at the Department of Psychiatry, stimulates the cerebral cortex, through a series of electrical currents located in a coil generating an artificial magnetic field.
UNAM Global said that according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is one of the most common mental disorders that affect more than 300 million people in the world.
José Javier Mendoza Velásquez, Research Coordinator of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, said that mental illnesses are one of the main causes of disability in the world.
He explained that transcranial magnetic stimulation is a method approved since 2010, which has 30 years of research. 66 percent of patients respond to conventional antidepressants; however, for those who do not respond to common treatments new therapeutic opportunities should be offered.
Each of the areas of the cerebral cortex has certain functions, and by stimulating them with a powerful magnetic field, their functions improve; on the contrary, when done with a minimum wave frequency that area of the cortex is inhibited.
The transcranial magnetic stimulation is able to cross the skin, the skull and all the tissues that protect the central nervous system. Upon coming into contact with the cerebral cortex, the magnetic stimulus is converted into electrical energy; “That is the reason why the brain tissue responds and generates an action,” said the specialist.
He noted that this method does not require any kind of anesthesia or hospitalization. In addition, this treatment does not generate any other symptoms and is considered a form of exploration of many functions of the central nervous system.
This procedure has been used to address other conditions such as attention deficit, disorders due to the consumption of alcoholic substances and other drugs such as cocaine, personality alterations, autism and eating behavior disorders, in order to regulate this type of impulsive behaviors that could lead to an illness.
The Department of Psychiatry of the UNAM has two transcranial magnetic stimulation care protocols. In the first, patients with drug-resistant depression are treated, and the second is for those suffering from alcohol abuse disorders. This service is available to the student community.