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TMS for Depression

How Does TMS Work for Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Finding a depression treatment that works can seem like a never-ending journey. Around 40% of men and 20% of women treat their depression with talk therapy or antidepressants, according to research published by the CDC. It is said that as much as one-third of people who seek treatment for depression find no relief with these more standard treatments, not to mention the unwanted side effects.

Thankfully, new treatment options like transmagnetic stimulation (TMS) may signal a new era of treatment options for those struggling. In this article, we’ll provide some more detail on TMS and how it may be able to help you find relief.

What is Treatment-Resistant Depression?

In some cases, real relief and remission from depression symptoms can be harder to achieve than expected. If you have not responded to two or more oral antidepressants, for example, you may be classified as having treatment-resistant depression. The symptoms are typically the same, albeit more severe. TMS is bringing hope to cases of treatment-resistant depression.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of treatment-resistant depression are the same as other kinds of depression, except they come back day after day, never responding to standard treatment like psychotherapy or antidepressant medications. Symptoms may include:

  • You feel sad, tearful, empty, or hopeless
  • You’re easily angered, irritated, or frustrated, even over trivial matters
  • You’re not interested in things you used to enjoy doing
  • You have trouble sleeping
  • You’re fatigued and have low energy
  • You’re experiencing significant changes in appetite and weight

What is TMS?

TMS is a new option for treatment-resistant depression that has been revolutionizing the field of clinical psychiatry. First approved by the FDA for depression treatment in 2008, it has been used extensively worldwide since.

TMS therapy is especially helpful for those who do not respond to antidepressants, or those who wish to avoid the side effects they frequently bring on. 

In terms of the actual procedure, TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating neuro-muscular tissue using strong, time-varying magnetic fields to induce electrical currents. These can stimulate the cortex, spinal roots, and peripheral nerves.

Instead of using invasive electrical currents like in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the magnetic pulses from TMS are similar in strength to those emitted during a typical MRI. The pulses are directed toward the prefrontal cortex of the brain to change the magnetic field and stimulate neurons within the mood center. This not only mitigates depression for a short time but can also result in long-lasting relief.

TMS treatments occur on weekdays, and usually include six weeks of non-invasive, in-office treatments. These treatments take less than an hour each day, five days each week, for approximately 30 treatments.

What to Expect From TMS 

TMS treatment is performed in a doctor’s office while the patient is fully awake and seated in a comfortable chair. Because the magnetic pulses make a sound similar to that of a woodpecker, earplugs are provided. The TMS device is then placed in the proper position on the head, and the magnetic pulses are delivered. The process takes 19 minutes per session.

Final Thoughts

Treatment-resistant depression symptoms can make everyday life feel like a challenge. With new treatments like TMS therapy, you can find relief and soar to new heights of mental wellness.

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