Depression relief

A new type of magnetic brain stimulation eliminates symptoms in more than three-quarters of patients

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A new type of magnetic brain stimulation eliminated symptoms in more than three-quarters of severely depressed people participating in a Stanford Medicine study. 

“It works well, it works quickly and it’s noninvasive,” said Nolan Williams, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and senior author of the study, published in October 2021 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

There were 29 people with treatment-resistant depression in the study. About half received the new treatment — Stanford accelerated intelligent neuromodulation therapy, known as SAINT. The rest were given a placebo treatment.

After five days, 78.6% of the treatment group participants were no longer depressed. “It’s quite a dramatic effect, and it’s quite sustained,” said Alan Schatzberg, MD, the Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, who was a co-author of the study.

Tommy Van Brocklin, 60, was depressed for 45 years and unable to find lasting effective remedies. Soon after the new treatment, he was able to make major life changes. “I’m sleeping better. I completely quit alcohol,” he said. “I’m walking my dog and playing the guitar again, for nothing more than the sheer joy of it.”

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Mandy Erickson

Mandy Erickson is associate editor in the Office of Communications. Email her at

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