Depression is the second-most common mental illness in the United States, behind anxiety disorders. In the United States alone, 16.2 million adults suffer from depression each year. Overall, about 15 percent of adults tackle depression sometime during their life, whether it’s chronic or short-term.
Despite its prevalence, scientists have yet to discover a cure for this mood disorder that works flawlessly for all patients. While that would be a dream-come-true for patients and doctors, depression is complex and has several different causes. So, professionals developed a full toolkit of treatments that can help people with depression.
When Medication and Therapy Don’t Work
Each patient’s unique brain chemistry, cause of the depression, and severity of the symptoms affects how well any particular remedy works. With this in mind, mental health professionals typically recommend antidepressant medications, therapy, or a combination of both as the first line of treatment.
Although many patients respond well to these treatments, therapy and medication are not enough for some patients. For example, some medications may make a person with depression feel worse and therapy may not be enough to overcome the physical causes of depression. Patients who find themselves in these situations should not lose hope for a cure.
TMS Therapy for Depression
When traditional therapy methods for treating depression do not work or a patient cannot tolerate them, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can help. Patients who choose this path may feel nervous because TMS isn’t talked about much in popular media. However, it is a safe and effective method for treating a complex disorder.
Is TMS Safe?
Like antidepressants, the FDA has approved TMS for treatment of depression. To get this approval, researchers had to demonstrate both the safety and the effectiveness of TMS. Furthermore, TMS is better tolerated than most antidepressants. When compared to the possible dangers of antidepressants and untreated depression, it’s clear that TMS is a safe option for many people.
Is TMS Therapy the Right Treatment for You?
Like any therapy, TMS is not right for everyone. Before you decide if it’s right for you, ask yourself a few critical questions and consider talking to your mental health professional about it.
Is Depression the Right Diagnosis?
Although mental health professionals follow strict diagnostic criteria, they do not always land on the correct diagnosis first. Troubles in communication can lead to misdiagnosis. For example, someone with bipolar disorder may only seek help during a depressed episode but not during manic ones. As such, a professional may diagnose the patient with major depressive disorder first, only to later realize what’s really going on. TMS is primarily for people with depression, so it’s important to be sure about the diagnosis.
Have You Tried Medication and Therapy with Little Success?
TMS is most useful for patients who have tried two or more types of antidepressants and some kind of psychotherapy first. In some cases, these treatments just do not provide enough relief. In others, the medicine stops the depression symptoms but brings on side effects that you cannot tolerate. If this sounds familiar to you, you may be a good candidate for TMS.
How Severe are Your Symptoms?
Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. If your symptoms keep you from enjoying daily life, completing the tasks you need to do, or even holding a steady job, TMS may be able to help.
TMS is time intensive with patients needing at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week for several weeks to complete the treatment. If symptoms are severe enough to interfere with everyday life, then the time commitment is often well worth it.
Talk to Your Doctor
As with any medical intervention, you should consult a doctor before deciding if TMS is right for you. The professionals at LifeStance Health can help you understand the benefits and risks of the procedure, and help you make this important decision.
Is TMS Therapy Actually Effective?
Like any other treatment for depression, TMS will not work for everyone. However, it is one of the most effective remedies available today. Harvard reports that up to 60 percent of patients who use TMS for depression get better. For comparison, that’s roughly the same effectiveness rate as antidepressants.
However, antidepressants and TMS work on depression in very different ways. So, if medication has not worked for a patient in the past, the odds are high that TMS can help. Furthermore, TMS is much for effective than waiting and hoping that the depression gets better. LifeStance Health cannot overstate how dangerous depression can be when left untreated.
About one-third of the people who get better with TMS go into complete remission. They no longer experience any depression symptoms and continue to live their lives as they did before depression. Like with any mood disorder and any effective treatment, patients can relapse. However, when doctors know that TMS worked for a patient before, they can go right to the same treatment and offer relief faster than before.
If you’d like to learn more about TMS Therapy, find a therapist near you!