Treating depression: What you need to know about TMS
Depression is a clinical condition that affects the way you feel or carry out your daily activities. You might feel completely cut off from the world and lack a sense of connectivity with your loved ones. Any person has to have symptoms of depression for at least 2 weeks to be diagnosed with depression. Loss of interest, depressed mood, unable to concentrate or think clearly, suicidal thoughts are some of the symptoms of depression. Any form and stage of depression can be treated. Early intervention is the key.
It is estimated that around 7.1% of adults in the US have experienced depression at least once in their life (data as of 2017). According to the CDC, 3.2% of children between the ages of 3-17 have been diagnosed with depression. As you can see, depression is not a rare condition and can affect all age groups and at any time.
What causes depression?
There is no exact reason as to what causes depression. Several factors come into play for a person to be diagnosed with depression. Prolonged stress and pressure related to work or personal life is one common cause. A sudden change in your lifestyle or a recent trauma may lead to depression.
If your family has a history of depression, you might have a higher chance of having it, though it is not always the case. People suffering or managing a chronic disease, people with personality disorders are also at risk. Consumption of alcohol and drugs may lead to depression.
Depression in young ones may be the result of living in an abused environment though it can happen without any underlying reason too. If the child's behavior or habit seems to interfere with his/her daily activities and if they lack social interaction, find it difficult to engage in any activity, then it is always best to consult a doc.
Lack of neurotransmitters
Neurons are the fundamental network in our brain that are responsible for effectively communicating with one another and transmitting information. Neurotransmitters are chemical molecules that are used by the neurons to send signals to other neurons. There are six major types of neurotransmitters - Acetylcholine, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Serotonin, GABA, and Glutamate. Studies have identified that there might be a connection of low levels of neurotransmitters in some people causing depression (source:health.harvard.edu).
Depression after childbirth
Also known as postpartum depression, many mothers suffer from depression within the first two weeks after delivery.
Seasons with reduced sunlight can cause a sense of lethargy or inactivity in people and it affects the mood too. These come and go every year.
Any patient who has been suffering symptoms of depression for more than 2 years is diagnosed with prolonged depression.
Hallucinations or complaining of hearing or seeing things that are not present in reality or cannot be observed by other people come under psychotic depression.
Medications for depression:
There are medications for treating depression. Your doctor will initially assess you and prescribe the right way to treat your mental condition. Antidepressant medications or therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), supportive therapies may be recommended. Medications take anywhere from 2 weeks to one month to start seeing the desired results. Please do not stop taking your medications once you start seeing improvements. Always consult a doc in case you want to change or alter the dosage of your medicines.
For patients where the above-said treatments do not work or are suffering from a major depressive disorder, may consider other modalities of brain stimulation therapies like ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) and VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) or TMS. ECT makes use of electrical signals passed on to the patient's scalp to relieve depressive symptoms. There might be brief seizures during the treatment but the patient will not be aware of the procedure since the treatment is administered under anesthesia. Short term side effects include memory loss, lightheadedness after the treatment, and in rare cases, seizures. ECT is generally recommended for patients having extreme symptoms of depression.
VNS is a surgical treatment where a small device is implanted that stimulates the nerve using electric signals.
For patients with little to no effect from antidepressants or psychotherapies, a noninvasive brain stimulation therapy like TMS is an alternative treatment. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a noninvasive type of brain stimulation that makes use of a magnetic field to generate electrical signals to stimulate nerve cells in particular areas of the brain. Repetitive magnetic pulses are sent, hence rTMS of repetitive TMS is another term that is used for TMS.
How is TMS done?
The procedure and the devices used in TMS therapy is done outside the body. This affects the central nervous system and sends out magnetic pulses to the nerves that are recognized to be associated with depression.
Prior to the treatment begins, the technician will analyze and find out the exact stimulation intensity and also the anatomical target by utilizing a region in the brain called the motor cortex. The motor cortex is an area on our brain that is involved in planning, control, and execution of voluntary activities. The motor cortex would aid the technician to know the intensity of the magnetic pulses to be sent in order to generate the required stimulation. This will differ from one person to another. The acquired calculations are then applied to the primate dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is in charge of cognitive features, memory, and reactions.
Can TMS be recommended to all?
You will be first evaluated by your doctor to confirm if TMS will be an effective treatment for your condition. Patients with surgical implants, taking medications for any chronic diseases, diagnosed with any other mental disorders, having a history of epilepsy, needs to discuss with your doctor before undergoing the TMS treatment.
An electromagnetic coil placed against your forehead will send in magnetic pulses to stimulate the nerves on your brain that is responsible for regulating moods and depression. This is a completely painless process that takes around 20 to 40 minutes.
Advantages of TMS over other brain stimulation therapies:
- TMS does not require any surgical procedure like VNS
- There are minimal side effects if you are treated by TMS
- TMS is done as an outpatient procedure, so you could fix an appointment in between your work and get back to your workplace after the procedure.
- No anesthesia or sedatives are required
Are there any clinics practicing TMS?
TMS is approved by the FDA in the US. This procedure has been successful with patients having treatment-resistant depression. There are many private clinics in the US practicing TMS. For more than 20 years, we have been helping patients overcome different mental health issues. TMS is now in Norwood!! You don't have to wait or drive long for your TMS appointment. Just fill in a form for a phone consultation with our team.