Depression is a complex mental health disorder than impacts about 17 million American adults each year. Depression symptoms can become so severe that daily functioning is affected. Finding a safe, effective treatment for depression is important for restoring quality of life.
People seeking help for a depressive disorder will initially receive the traditional treatment protocol of antidepressants combined with psychotherapy. The medication targets serotonin levels while the therapy assists patients in shifting negative or distorted thoughts that tend to compound the problem. This treatment plan is effective for 50%-70% of individuals, although there may be multiple trial attempts to identify the most effect antidepressant.
For the remaining 30%-50% of people struggling with depression who were not responsive to the antidepressant therapy, alternative treatments are sought.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been providing excellent treatment responses with few if any side effects. Mental Wellness KS offers TMS for patients who were not experiencing relief from depression symptoms via antidepressants.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, causing impairment across many aspects of an individual’s daily life. The DSM-5 established a set of diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD), including:
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report or observation made by others.
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities more of the day, nearly every day.
Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
TMS is a brain stimulation therapy that is both safe and effective for the treatment of MDD. While other brain stimulation techniques require sedation, TMS is administered without the need for anesthesia.
TMS is a therapeutic technique in which magnetic pulses are sent to the brain via a coil positioned on the scalp. The electromagnetic coil then induces electrical currents in the left prefrontal cortex, the mood center of the brain, stimulating neurons that are underactive. TMS helps to rebalance brain chemistry, which can result in better sleep quality, increased energy, better concentration, and improved mood.
Following each treatment session, the patient is able to return to regular daily activities at home, work, or school. Side effects are rare, and there are no systemic negative effects, such as those associated with antidepressants. Adverse effects reported include mild to moderate headache, irritation on the scalp, and facial numbness or tingling.
Is TMS Safe?
As an alternative treatment for depression, TMS offers excellent results without the risks associated with general anesthesia. TMS clinical studies conducted in the U.S. and globally, confirm safety and efficacy of TMS for treating not only depression, but also a host of other mental health disorders and health conditions. Some of these trials include:
Linda Carpenter, M.D., who is a psychiatrist at Brown University, chaired a multisite study involving 42 TMS clinics in 2012. The results mirrored other similar multisite trials in demonstrating how effective TMS is in treating major depression. Carpenter reported that 58% of the participants experienced improvement in symptoms and 37% achieved full remission.
Another study followed 307 patients with MDD who participated in a multi-site trial over a 52-week period. The results showed that 68% of the 257 patients improved with TMS therapy, and 45% had reached full remission at end of one year.
A study out of Northwestern University authored by Philip G. Janicak studied 301 patients with treatment-resistant MDD over a period of 6 months after a six-week TMS therapy regimen. The study authors concluded that initial data suggested that the therapeutic effects of TMS are durable.