Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is a non-invasive, procedure that can treat a variety of mental health conditions. It has been FDA-approved to treat depression, including major depressive disorder (MDD).The medical community defines MDD as an episode of sadness or apathy, which includes other symptoms, lasting for two or more consecutive weeks. It’s severe enough to interrupt your daily activities. If you have MDD, you’re not alone. Around 16.1 million American adults have the condition, which is 6.9% of the population. Nearly 25 million Americans have been taking antidepressant medications for at least two years, but many don’t get the relief they need. TMS therapy offers hope for living a life free of depression.
How Can TMS Therapy Help My Depression?Clinical depression is a highly complex mood disorder. Each individual has different, unique causes for their depression, although there are certain risk factors for the illness as well. These include:
- A family history of depression
- Physical illness
- Sleep problems
- Major life changes and stress
- Lack of social support
- Low socio-economic status
- Old age
- Substance abuse
- The amygdala – In depressed patients, the amygdala (which processes emotions) shows higher activity.
- The thalamus – In depressed patients, the thalamus (which connects information it gets from your senses to pleasant and unpleasant feelings) has a higher number of nerve cells.
- The hippocampus – In depressed patients, the hippocampus (which links memories to emotions) is smaller.
Can TMS Cure Depression?Many patients with depression are treatment-resistant. That means they’ve tried all the standard forms of treatment (talk therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy; medications, like SSRIs and SNRIs; and lifestyle interventions, like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and daily exposure to sunlight) without success. Many clinical trials demonstrate the effectiveness of TMS for depression, and it works even for people with treatment-resistant depression. TMS therapy may not completely eradicate your depression, but it can certainly help to make your symptoms more manageable. When the symptoms of this mental health condition are in full swing, it can be a painful and disruptive experience. It can get in the way of your work, your relationships, your responsibilities, and all the ordinary things you want or need to do. TMS for depression can make these symptoms less intense, allowing you to function normally.
How Will I Know I’m Being Helped?If you get a full course of TMS treatments for depression, you’ll receive five sessions a week for up to six weeks, then three weeks of less frequent treatment sessions. After a regular round of sessions, patients have reported to staff that their depressive symptoms are more under control. They also say they are much less likely to experience depression symptoms. Everyone’s experience of depression is different, so your experience with depression relief will be unique, but there are common symptoms you may notice improving following TMS therapy:
- Persistent sadness
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of energy
- Being tired and exhausted all the time
- Feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Lack of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Social withdrawal
- Irritability and anger
- Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Sleep problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Chronic indecisiveness