Brain Stimulation Therapies for Depression
What is the brain stimulation method?
The brain is a very important part of our body. It coordinates the entire functioning of our system. There are neurons that communicate with one another to help in this coordination. Sometimes, due to the lack of neurotransmitters, we experience changes in mood and thoughts that can hinder daily activities. The term depression is used when a person’s way of feeling and mood impacts his/her tasks in the long run. There are several treatments for depression like talk therapy, medications, and brain stimulation therapies. Out of these, brain stimulation therapies prove to provide much better and faster relief for people with severe depression.
The brain stimulation method makes use of electrical and magnetic pulses to stimulate certain parts of the brain that are responsible for causing depression or other mental health illnesses. The different types of brain stimulation therapies are Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). ECT and rTMS are widely used for treating depression. We will discuss each of them here.
What part of the brain does TMS stimulate?
TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) therapy usually focuses on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making, memory, actions, and mood. Stimulating this part of the brain by sending in magnetic pulses improves the symptoms of depression. The treatment involves placing a coil on the patient’s head and sending magnetic signals to stimulate and improve brain activity. The procedure is painless and takes around 20 minutes to complete. A common side effect is a headache after the session. This mostly disappears after a few sessions.
How successful is TMS
Around 50 to 60 percent of the patients who didn’t see a positive effect using antidepressants, experienced relief from depressive symptoms after undergoing TMS treatment. One-third of the patients experienced full remission, though subsequent treatment sessions are recommended (source:health.harvard).
ECT and its side effects
Electrical stimulation like ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) might be recommended for patients with severe depression, mania, or for those who didn’t have any relief from other treatment options. ECT makes use of electrical signals to stimulate and improve brain activity.
Though ECT is a lot safer now, it still comes with few side effects and can be major when compared to TMS. There will be induced seizures during the ECT treatment.
Memory loss, dissociation, or confused behavior are some of the side effects of ECT.
Difference between TMS and ECT
ECT is done in a hospital and done after giving anesthesia. The patient is unconscious during the procedure. You may have side effects like muscle ache, headache, memory loss, confusion. TMS, on the other hand, is done as an outpatient procedure and does not require anesthesia. The patient is fully awake during the session. You can resume your daily activities after the session. There are minimal side effects, unlike ECT.
What are the general methods used to treat depression?
Other than brain stimulation therapy, there are treatment options like talk therapy, counseling, antidepressants, and Esketamine (Spravato) used for treating depression. Each of the treatment options is opted for and recommended by the doctor after the evaluation of the patient, severity of the symptoms, and other illnesses. Please try to get help if you are experiencing symptoms that affect your daily life. Contact us to know more about the different treatment options that we offer and let us help you fight depression with TMS For You!