New machine to treat depression at Geelong Clinci
New machine to treat depression at Geelong Clinci

The machine that helps tackle depression

A NEW machine will help patients in the region battling medication-resistant depression.

Healthscope has unveiled a second transcranial magnetic stimulation machine at private St Albans Park mental health facility The Geelong Clinic.

The clinic was one of the first hospitals in Australia to offer the therapy when it commissioned its first TMS machine in 2008.

TMS is a non-invasive technique, which uses a focused magnetic field to activate specific

areas of the brain, to alleviate persistent symptoms of depression.

Geelong Clinic general manager Janine Haigh said demand for the therapy had increased steadily across the Barwon South-West region since the clinic commissioned its first machine.

The launch of the second TMS machine coincides with Mental Health Week.

Psychiatrist and director of The Geelong Clinic's TMS unit, Associate Professor Ajeet Singh, said the main message the clinic wanted to emphasise during the week was "lots of people do get better".

"We were one of the first clinical services in the world to offer TMS and we still participate in international research," Associate Professor Singh said.

"TMS works by activating part of the brain that has become underactive in serious depression," he said.

"Picture it like jogging on the spot - it makes that part of the brain metabolically more active and helps regulate mood.

"We all rely on our ability to regulate our emotions and that helps us function.

"When people have serious depression that balance becomes out of whack and the (TMS) magnet works on restoring that balance.

"When primary care and medication hasn't been effective and a patient continues to have persisting symptoms of depression, then psychiatry and TMS is another option."

During a TMS therapy session, a patient is seated in a comfortable chair and the TMS operator rests a magnet against a patient's scalp near their forehead.

A session lasts 45 to 60 minutes and it usually takes four to six treatments to notice an initial improvement in mood in patients who are responsive to the treatment.

It may take up to 20 treatments for a patient's mood to return to normal levels.

Meanwhile, mental health advocate and former AFL champion Wayne Schwass spoke to

local employees and employers at a WorkSafe event in Geelong on Tuesday.

The former North Melbourne and Sydney Swans player lived with mental health conditions

for most of his playing career and hopes his story will encourage others to speak up.

Since retiring from football and broadcasting, Schwass has founded mental health advocacy

group PUKA UP.

He said mental health was the new frontier for organisations and businesses.

"If people are happier and healthier, and feel valued and supported they'll give more to the business and the business wins," Mr Schwass said.

"We have first aid officers, OHS officers … but there's only a small percentage of mental health first aid officers."