Devices for Depression Aim for a Network Effect

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In-clinic TMS has established itself as a safe, but only moderately effective therapy for treatment-resistant depression. To help the most critically ill depression patients, Magnus Medical looks like it has figured out how to boost both the speed and efficacy of TMS by targeting brain structures able to generate a network effect. Will it open the door to other markets in depression and mental health?

We can thank the pandemic, once again, for highlighting gaps in medicine and new ways to address them. According to one poll, in January 2021, four in 10 adults in the US reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a vast increase over a survey conducted in early 2019 when one in 10 persons were depressed or anxious, a comparison that will surprise nobody. With this has come increasing recognition that depression is a comorbid condition that makes outcomes worse for just about every other disease, including COVID-19, which is itself linked to depression, either because of its impact on the immune system or simply the trauma of the disease.

At the same time, mental health has become a hot target for investment. Rock Health reported that in 2021, digital health start-ups focusing on mental healthcare (sometimes with service components) had raised $5.1 billion, $3.3 billion more than any other clinical indication that year, and almost twice the amount invested in the space in 2020 ($2.7 billion). These deals are largely focused on the delivery of care and issues of access, but this is one trend that will have an impact on therapy developers as well.


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