Depression is one of the major causes of disability in the United States among people of age 15 to 44. Although there are many effective treatment options for depression, first-line approaches such as antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy may not work for everyone. In fact, around two-thirds of people with depression do not get satisfactory relief from the first antidepressant drug they try. Even after two months of treatment, some symptoms can remain for these individuals, and each subsequent drug tried is actually less likely to help than the previous one.
What can be done when people do not respond to first-line treatment options for depression?
For many years, ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) or shock therapy was the best option for treatment-resistant depression. Although ECT is effective, it must be done under general anesthesia and requires continued maintenance to prevent relapse.
ECT is generally safe but risks can include:
- Memory loss
- Complications from anesthesia such as heart problems
- Jaw pain
Patients are generally prescribed medication after complete treatment to prevent relapse.
What is TMS?
For such patients who do not respond to medications and therapy, there is a newer treatment option called TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
TMS is an FDA- approved noninvasive treatment for major depression, in which recurring magnetic energy pulses are sent to the specific regions of the brain that are responsible for mood control. TMS is generally used when other treatment options for depression do not improve symptoms. TMS devices operate completely outside the body.
TMS is a relatively short outpatient procedure. It doesn’t involve anesthesia, sedation or surgery, and no recovery time is needed afterward. You stay alert and awake during the treatment. Also, it is non-systemic, which means it has no effect on other parts of the body. A typical TMS therapy includes 5 sessions per week for 4 to 6 weeks. One session usually lasts for 15 to 30 minutes.
How Effective is TMS?
Around 67% of people with depression who have not got relief from medications, experience a clinically meaningful response with TMS. About 45.1% experience a full remission, meaning that their symptoms go away completely. Most TMS patients feel better for many months after the therapy stops, with the average length of the response being more than a year. However, it is important to understand that these findings are not permanent and results may vary from person to person. Some may opt to come back for a few more rounds of therapy.
If you are one of more than 350 million people worldwide who is suffering from depression and are not getting the relief you desire, NeuroStar® TMS therapy at MidValley Healthcare could be a worthwhile alternative for you. It is prescribed for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder in adult patients who have failed to receive satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication. NeuroStar® is an FDA-cleared, non-drug, non-invasive method for treating depression with no systemic side effects.