What is TMS for Depression?

TMS Treatment for Depression

Depression is a serious disorder that impacts a person’s quality of life and ability to function. Also, people with depression are at risk of substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. An estimated 50% of all people who die from suicide have major depression. 25 million Americans have depression in a given year. For patients, finding adequate treatment for depression is critical. Medications and therapy work for most, but for those who don’t benefit from medication, TMS may be an option.

What is depression?

“Depression” is an umbrella term for a clinical mood disorder that is further broken down into different subtypes. Several forms of depression can impact people from many different demographic groups. Major, or clinical depression, is the most common form of the disorder. Other depression subtypes include:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Bipolar depression
  • Psychotic depression
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Dysthymia
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Anyone can get depression, but women are at a slightly elevated risk than men. Part of the reason for women’s higher risk is the fact that some depression subtypes can only impact women, such as PMDD and postpartum. But for men with depression, suicide is a greater risk. 

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression symptoms can vary significantly from one person to the next. Also, the type of depression someone has will impact their symptoms. For example, women with postpartum may experience anxiety about their baby. People with SAD will report symptom changes along with weather patterns. In general, depression symptoms include the following:

  • Pervasive feelings of sadness, guilt, and poor self-worth
  • Increased anger and irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty fulfilling responsibilities and obligations
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal attempts

Some of the symptoms of depression may be contradictory and different for each person. For example, a person with depression may eat to excess and gain weight, while another may not be able to eat very much and will lose weight. Also, some people with depression become despondent, and others become angry and irritable. The range of symptoms for depression can also change from one episode to the next.

What are the risk factors of depression?

Scientists still don’t fully understand why some people become depressed, and others do not. A combination of genetics, environmental triggers, and a person’s innate personality may predispose them to the disorder. Depression is often thought to be an imbalance in brain chemistry, and many things can trigger the imbalance. 

Some believe the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy and the stress of childbirth and new motherhood can trigger depression in some women. Being a victim of violence can also make someone vulnerable to the disorder. People who were abused as children are at high risk of becoming severely depressed as adults. Also, their depression symptoms tend to be more severe than people with depression who were not mistreated as children. 

Where a person lives can also impact their risk of depression. People who live in places that don’t see much sunlight and are cold for part or most of the year may struggle with more frequent depressive symptoms. 

Poverty can also play a role in depression risk. In studies on those in poverty, they experienced more frequent, severe, and long-lasting episodes of depression. The chronic stress of financial difficulty, coupled with a lack of access to treatment, all contribute to increased rates of depression in the disadvantaged.

What causes depression? 

Risk factors aside, depression is caused by brain chemicals and differences in the way various circuits work the brain. Studies on depression and brain activity have found that in certain regions of the brain, depressed patients experience less brain activity. A combination of neurochemical imbalances and neuronal inactivity can cause someone to display depression symptoms.

How do medications and therapy help depression?

Medications play an important role in alleviating depression symptoms. SSRIs and SNRIs help balance brain chemicals so patients can find relief, but that’s often not enough. While medications can allow patients to breathe, therapy helps to prevent a relapse of depression. With treatment, patients can learn what their triggers are. Sometimes it’s a stressful environment, and for others, they may become depressed when their finances take a hit. A therapist helps patients identify their triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms to prevent future episodes.

How does TMS help alleviate depression?

TMS uses non-invasive electromagnetic energy to stimulate the brain. Research on TMS and depression have found that the electromagnetic pulses, when applied to depressed areas of the brain, activates neurons thought to be responsible for depression symptoms.

Why would someone choose TMS Along with medication?

Medications are often the first line of defense in treating depression. Most patients will respond favorably to antidepressants. However, sometimes people need additional help. TMS can help those who are experiencing treatment-resistant depression. 

Also, medications can come with a range of side effects and other issues. Some of the most common side effects of antidepressants are weight gain, stomach upset, dry mouth, drowsiness, and sexual dysfunction. When receiving TMS, it’s important to also work with your mental healthcare professional on finding the right medications for you. 

For patients who don’t respond to medications or therapy as well as they’d hoped, TMS may be the right choice for them. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression episodes that aren’t going away, contact Pulse TMS. Our technicians are standing by to answer your questions, so you can see if you’re a candidate for TMS treatment.