Depression on trial

Six-week study will evaluate safety, effectiveness of treatments in adolescents with major disorder

Dr. Bob Sammons, a Grand Junction psychiatrist, is part of a trial evaluating a noninvasive therapy for adolescents who meet the criteria for major depressive disorder. There is a 60 percent chance that the treatment will work for patients who already have failed on other treatments, Sammons said.



Imaging scans show the difference between a depressed patient’s brain and that of a patient who is not suffering from depression. With transcranial magnetic stimulation, cells on the right side of the brain are stimulated into activity with a tiny electromagnetic pulse.



estern Colorado adolescents suffering from depression could be part of a clinical trial using a noninvasive therapy already being provided in Grand Junction.

Rocky Mountain TMS is part of the trial being conducted by Neuronetics Inc., which is conducting the study at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of daily, active Neurostar® TMS treatments in adolescents meeting criteria for major depressive disorder.

Rocky Mountain TMS, part of the Mesa Behavioral Medicine Clinic campus at 1400 N. Seventh St., offers transcranial magnetic stimulation, including a clinic for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Bob Sammons, a psychiatrist who has practiced in Grand Junction since 1988, offers transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which the cells on the right side of the brain are stimulated into activity with a tiny electromagnetic pulse.

The ensuing chain reaction ultimately can lessen the symptoms of depression, Sammons said.

TMS, as the treatment is called, is generally a last-ditch effort to deal with depression, used only after other methods, including drug regimens, have failed.

There is a 60 percent chance that TMS will work for patients who already have failed on other treatments, Sammons said.

“We get 40 percent remission among people with treatment-resistant depression, and 75 percent show a reduction in depression scores of 50 percent or more,” Sammons said.

The clinical trial is a double-blind placebo test, meaning that some patients will receive TMS and others will receive a placebo, or “sham” treatments.

Neither the physician nor the patient will know at the time of the treatment whether the placebo is being administered.

The trial requires at least 100 people, but more are welcome, Sammons said.

Patients who receive the placebo treatment can get the actual treatment at no cost afterward, Sammons said.

Participants must undergo the full six-week treatment period, in which patients are seated in a chair resembling a dental chair.

A technician places what looks like half a headset above the area known as the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex and administers a series of pulses, or “thumps,” which begin to get dormant nerve cells to fire.

Treatments administered in Grand Junction would be the same as those to be administered in other trial locations, such as the Mayo Clinic, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio State University and the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Eligible patients can be male or female between the ages of 12 and 21. They must be drug-free, not pregnant and not be taking anti-depressants.

Sammons and his partner, Christopher Blackburn, are spreading the word about the trial to pediatricians and other medical practices.

Those interested in participating in the clinical trial should make arrangements through their physician or call Blackburn at 697-1020.


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