The United States Food and Drug Administration approved a helmet that treats depression using — wait for it — magnets. It might sound like weird science, but doctors are hailing it as a non-invasive and effective alternative to antidepressants.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or TMS), involves wearing a helmet filled with electromagnetic coils that sends magnetic pulses to “rewire” specific neural pathways in the brain. Brainsway, a publicly traded Israeli company, has an exclusive license for the technology.
While TMS bears some resemblance to electroconvulsive therapy, doctors say it works quite differently. Traditional shock therapy induces seizures to release neurotransmitters, the goal for TMS is to energize nerve tracks in the brain by making them fire more frequently. The magnetic field impulses of TMS are far gentler, the same strength as those used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.