On August 11th, 2014 legendary comedian and movie star Robin Williams took his own life after quietly battling major depression for several decades.
His suicide took the world by total surprise for one reason – nobody thought Robin Williams was depressed. He never showed any signs, at least in the public eye. He was universally loved for making people laugh and he had a stunningly successful career.
His wife Susan told his story to The Hollywood Reporter. Apparently Williams struggled with depression, antidepressant medication and drug abuse for most of his life. However, the point of this post isn’t to focus on his struggles or his tragic suicide.
The saddest part of this story is that Robin Williams may very likely still be alive today if he would have discovered a new advancement in major depression treatment.
In one of our previous articles, we busted the myths on depression, now we’re going to crack the code on Major Depression Treatment.
It’s called Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (dTMS) and here’s why it’s different than any other traditional depression therapy option.
Major Depression therapies have traditionally been one of the following:
- Electro-convulsive Therapy (ECT)
Besides the undesirable side effects from drug and ECT therapy, the main problem is this. Studies show a full one third of people suffering with depression show resistance to traditional treatment.
Psychotherapy is better suited for those with mild depression, rather than moderate to severe cases. Psychotherapy also depends on the individual skill of the psychiatrist. For treatment resistant depression in particular, it’s not always the most effective option.
However, a new breakthrough technology in depression treatment known as TMS therapy has been shown to be effective in treating major depression.
How does it work?
The theory behind why TMS therapy works for treating depression is like this.
Think of electricity going through a circuit board powering a light bulb. Sometimes the wire gets a short circuit and this causes the light to turn off. Similarly, inside our brain there are areas known as “reward centers” like the nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the ventral prefrontal cortex. These reward centers help regulate our mood and behavior.
Scientists believe depression happens when the reward centers “short circuit”. Just like a normal circuit board short circuiting and turning off the light.
TMS works by stimulating the reward centers of your brain with powerful electromagnetic pulses similar to those in an MRI machine. The magnetic pulse induces an electrical field and this re-energizers the neurons in the reward centers, turning the “lights” back on.
Over a period of 5-7 weeks, major depression has been shown to reduce or go into remission in the majority of test subjects. Patients have reported no depression signs 3 months after treatment ended (study)
The difference between standard TMS treatment and Deep TMS is as the name implies. Deep TMS sends magnetic pulses farther (6 cm for deep versus 0.7-1.5 cm for standard) into the brain, allowing greater reactivation of reward centers.
This exciting new therapy has been approved by the FDA, it’s completely safe and non invasive. Patients do not need to be anesthetized and the sessions only last 20-30 minutes compared to over 45 minutes for standard TMS treatment.
In Europe, Deep TMS therapy is even being used to treat other psychiatric and neurological such as OCD, Autism, Parkinson’s, nicotine addiction, alcoholism, other various substance abuse, sleep disorders and more. Although only the treatment of major depression has been approved by the FDA for dTMS, there are two more FDA approvals pending for treatment of these other disorders.
This video explains Deep TMS treatment in great detail.
Who is this for?
Deep TMS treatment may be right for you if you’ve tried antidepressants or other forms of traditional therapy in the past with no remission in your depression.
What are the sessions like?
Patients sit in a comfortable chair and a helmet is placed on their head. During the treatment patients report a painless pulsating sensation. When the sessions are over, the patients can drive themselves home. Some patients report having mild headaches which are transient and quickly pass.
How long does it take to feel results?
Treatments last between 6-7 weeks, with 5 sessions per week.
In the first week, patients report having better sleep.
In the second week, patients report better concentration.
Between weeks 2.5-3, patients start feeling motivated to do things they once enjoyed again, spending time with family and they start looking forward to tomorrow.
In the 4th-5th week, patients feel 70-80% back to normal.
And in the 6th to 7th week most of the symptoms have lifted.
However, since no two brains are exactly the same, results will vary.
Are there any negative side effects?
Over 60 clinical studies show there are no unwanted side effects like stomach issues, sleeplessness, sexual side effects, or weight gain. In one case, a patient was reported to have a seizure because the proper protocol was not followed.
Is dTMS treatment for everyone?
Generally Deep TMS therapy participants must NOT:
- have a history of epilepsy or other seizure disorder
- have any metallic implants (except for standard amalgam dental fillings)
- have a history of drug abuse within the past six months
- have any serious unstable medical condition
- be pregnant or attempting to become pregnant
*Please consult with your doctor to check if Brainsway TMS therapy is right for you, if you don’t know where to start: Click here
Where are clinics with dTMS machines located?
Achieve TMS East is the leading provider of Deep Transcranial Stimulation in Massachusetts.
They have 5 clinics.
One in Amherst, NorthHampton, Worcester, Pittsfield and Springfield.
The team at Achieve TMS East go through a strict process for each session to ensure patient safety.
Where can I go to learn more about Deep TMS and Achieve TMS East?
You or one of your loved ones are invited to get a complimentary Achieve Wellness Screening to see if Deep TMS therapy is right for you.
The Achieve Wellness Screening is a short phone call with one of Achieve TMS East’s professionals.
To get more information on Deep TMS and claim your complimentary Achieve Wellness Screening click the button below.