A recent study that was published in the journal Psychiatric Research has found that by stimulating the frontal lobe of the brain, depression symptoms can be relieved. This method may prove to be safer and more effective than the use of antidepressants like Paxil. Researchers currently believe that insomnia and depression are also linked.

“People’s sleep gets better as their depression improves, but the treatment doesn’t itself cause sedation or insomnia,” said Dr. Peter B. Rosenquist at Georgia Health Sciences University.

The results of this study came from analyzing the data from a previous study that was conducted on 301 patients at 23 different sites. That study had compared the effects of Neuronetics Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy System use on treating depression to placebos for patients who had shown a previous resistance to drugs like Paxil. During the study, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) sessions lasting 40 minutes were given for a period of 6 weeks. Initially, the data that were published in 2007 were the basis for TMS being given FDA approval as a treatment for depression. The second analysis confirmed TMS’ efficacy; however, it didn’t show that the treatment helped at all with insomnia when compared to the placebo. Most of the placebo patients wanted to use prescription drugs to help them treat their insomnia.

“It’s important for us to understand the full range of the effects of any treatment we give,” said Rosenquist, corresponding author of the new study.

Antidepressants like Paxil may help in treating depression, but the drugs’ side effects can cause more harm than good. For example, Paxil can cause insomnia as well as violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. In this case, TMS may prove to work better than the medications do. Paxil may also cause birth defects like PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects and oral clefts in babies whose mothers take the drugs while pregnant.