You know the drill. Feeling depleted by ongoing, unrelenting symptoms of depression, you schedule an appointment to see a doctor. The doctor then prescribes an antidepressant with or without adjunct psychotherapy. You walk out of the doctor’s office feeling hopeful that the devastating depression symptoms will soon disappear and the quality of your life will improve.
When that particular antidepressant fails to alleviate the symptoms, the doctor prescribes a different one. Same thing, no relief. In fact, instead of helping the depression all you got were the horrible side effects of weight gain and insomnia! So yet another antidepressant is prescribed…only this time the side effects are even more pronounced. In fact, about 32% of patients treated with antidepressants simply do not respond to the drug therapy and/or are riddled with unpleasant adverse effects.
When the standard treatment protocol for depression not only fails to relieve the symptoms but instead offers only miserable side effects there comes a time to start searching outside the box for an alternative treatment for depression. Thankfully, in recent years thousands are finding relief through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a safe, noninvasive alternative therapy for treatment-resistant depression.
What is TMS?
TMS is a therapeutic technique in which magnetic pulses are sent to the brain via a coil positioned on the scalp. The electromagnetic coil then induces electrical currents in the left prefrontal cortex, the mood center of the brain, stimulating neurons that are underactive. The patient is fully alert during the treatment session, which lasts about 20 minutes for deep TMS (dTMS), a stronger application of TMS in which the currents reach up to 6 cm into the brain. During the sequence of sessions lasting 4-6 weeks, dTMS helps to rebalance brain chemistry, which leads to better sleep quality, concentration, and overall mood.
As an alternative treatment for depression, dTMS offers excellent results without the risks associated with general anesthesia. Following each treatment session, the patient is able to return to regular daily activities at home, work, or school. There are rarely any side effects reported, and no systemic negative effects. The side effects that have occurred tend to dissipate on their own over the course of treatment. Adverse effects reported include mild to moderate headache, and irritation on the scalp, both mild and transient.
Clinical Studies Show TMS Safe and Effective
When researching any kind of alternative treatment for depression, one needs to carefully distill available information and data in order to determine its safety and effectiveness. TMS and dTMS are both FDA approved for treatment-resistant depression, and in Europe they have been approved to treat multiple health conditions including, substance addiction, smoking cessation, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and epilepsy in addition to depression.
More than 60 clinical studies have been conducted worldwide on TMS, including large sham-controlled trials. Meta-analyses of the trials (see chart) was published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment showing the majority of TMS studies demonstrated TMS therapy effects were superior to the placebo. Additionally, according to the authors, Philip G. Janicak and Mehmet E. Dokucu, “Further, those receiving active TMS were three times more likely to achieve response and five times more likely to achieve remission compared with the sham group.” TMS trials and studies are ongoing.
Table 2 | Meta-analyses assessing the efficacy of TMS for Major Depressive Disorder
Achieve TMS East Leading Massachusetts Provider of TMS Alternative Treatment for Depression
Achieve TMS East is a premier provider of dTMS for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. Our offices in Massachusetts are conveniently located in Amherst, Northampton, and Springfield. At Achieve TMS East, our dedicated professionals are experts in the treatment of depression, and specialize in dTMS. On a daily basis they are able to turn their patients’ lives around, offering relief from the debilitating effects of depression. For more information on dTMS, please contact us today at (877) 297-5816.