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New treatment for depression

Millions of Americans suffer from depression and many of them use drugs as primary treatment.

But an unorthodox new treatment is giving new hope to some.

Jim Begamo introduces us to one Texas woman who's become a fan.

For more than half of her 77 years, Bonnie Smith has dealt with a serious illness.

"Just a free floating depression and a free floating anxiety." 

Smith says she's seen doctor after doctor and taken numerous anti-depressants but hasn't been happy with the medications' results or the side effects.

"I would do okay for months and even several years and it would creep back in again."

That's when Smith found psychiatrist Marilyn Vache and the Neurostar TMS device.

"We can actually map the brain with this machine so we know what areas we are affecting." 

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. 

Watch as Vache is able to position the device over the patient's head to trigger a slight thumb twitch.

"From there, we have to move that coil 5 1/2 centimeters forward towards the forehead." 

Vache says that's the area studies have shown where the depression symptoms are generated. 

The treatment coil then sends a pulsed magnetic field -- about the same as that used in an MRI -- a couple of centimeters into the brain.

"When that magnetic field hits the wet tissue of the brain it turns into a tiny, tiny current that targets only the areas affected by depression. That means there are no side effects. It doesn't go to any other part of the brain, so there's no memory loss.  There's no fogginess." 

Vache says most patients require 20 - 30 half-hour treatments.

"Oh absolutely I was skeptical.  But I was so miserable that I was willing to try it." 

But Smith says she saw immediate improvement after just four treatments. 

She's undergone 12 total.

"At the end of the 12th session. Gosh, I was Bonnie again."