How to Combine TMS with Other Treatments for Depression
Depression is a debilitating mental health condition that adversely affects all aspects of day-to-day life. If left untreated, depression leads to decreased productivity, damaged relationships, and deteriorating personal circumstances. The pathway to the light, from the darkness of depression is not always a linear one. Challenges oftentimes present, making it difficult to overcome feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Psychiatrists routinely recommend medication as a first line of defense against depression. A variety of SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) and SSRIs (Serotonin Selective Reuptake Inhibitors) are routinely prescribed to treat depression. Some are more effective than others, but each individual must be assessed one at a time.
Challenges with Antidepressant Medications
Every type of antidepressant has some or other unwanted side effects. These vary from one antidepressant class of drugs to the next. For example:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors – hypertension.
- Tricyclic antidepressants – dry mouth, blurred vision, glaucoma, urinary issues, sexual dysfunction, cognitive impairment, tachycardia, constipation.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – gastrointestinal issues, central nervous system issues, sexual dysfunction, and risk of seizures.
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors – sedation, dry mouth, insomnia, increased blood pressure, nausea, headaches, dizziness.
- Noradrenaline and serotonin specific antidepressants – dry mouth, sedation, weight gain, constipation, headaches, and drowsiness.
At times, certain antidepressant medications can also result in suicidal thoughts. That’s why every medication administered to patients should be carefully assessed to ensure that it is the right fit. To this end, therapists, licensed mental health counselors, and medical professionals should be engaged with patients every step of the way. According to Hollon et al. 2002, there is a rising prevalence of depression despite a dramatic increase in antidepressant use. This troubling reality has given rise to a synergistic approach to tackling depression. This involves a multi-faceted approach, including medication, therapy, and additional treatment options. When tackled in such a manner, depression can be combated.
Using Medication, Therapy, and TMS for Depression
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is currently one of the most exciting treatment options for depression. TMS for depression has been around for some time, but is only now starting to gain widespread prominence in the medical community as a highly effective option. At its core, TMS is a specialized treatment that uses magnetic wave stimulation to target neural activity in troubled parts of the brain. It is believed that people with depression are associated with ineffective neural activity, owing to the absence of dopamine and serotonin – the feel good chemicals – that antidepressant medications are used for.
With TMS, there is no surgical procedure to worry about. It is an outpatient treatment regimen which lasts between 20 minutes – 40 minutes per session, depending on where you’re being treated. The patient discusses all aspects of their mental health with a medical professional who then decides upon the appropriate course of action with TMS, in concert with medication and/or therapy. The appropriate treatment plan will be written up and administered. During the actual procedure, the virtually painless treatment starts working from the get go. The complexity of the human brain should not be underestimated. Fortunately, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and technologically advanced companies have started pooling their collective efforts in determining how best to tackle underperforming neural activity in the brain.
The goal is to use a non-invasive procedure to stimulate neurons in that part of the brain associated with depression. Naturally, the quality of the TMS treatment depends upon the provider and the equipment that is used. The benchmark of excellence in this arena is the BrainsWay Deep TMS™ methodology, where a mobile helmet-style device is used while the patient is fully awake, watching TV, reading, writing, or listening to music. Since the sessions only last for 20 minutes – 40 minutes, 5 days a week, for several weeks, this gradual process builds incrementally on previous sessions to rollback symptoms of depression, lift mood, and enhance the quality of the patient’s life. It is fully cleared by the FDA, and is now the preferred non-surgical rout to take.
Previously, patients were relegated to painful and potentially dangerous treatment options. These included Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS), Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). According to the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS), ‘An estimated 20% of patients with major depression are refractory to existing therapies.’ This underscores just how important it is for all options to be considered when treating depression. It is particularly true of treatment resistant depression. For that particular mental health condition, TMS has already proven highly effective.