Depression symptoms have a number of remedies today. Many of them are even non-invasive. Most of them are also easy to use or participate in, but the worst symptoms require medical attention. People with depression can manage their symptoms today through a variety of methods. The most popular and widely used of these include psychotherapy and antidepressants. You can also go for cognitive therapy. There are plenty of alternate options for you, though, and the following list offers quite a few for you to consider when looking to treat depression.
1. St. John’s Wort
This supplement is not yet approved by the FDA to treat depression. However, many people swear by its effectiveness. They have used it and make claims for its utility. Though not as widely used in the US, people in Europe often take this supplement to help with their depression. You should be careful with St. John’s Wort, though. This medicine can interact with your other medications. It can also have side effects when mixed with blood-thinning drugs and other pills. It’s also dangerous to use this along with HIV medications. While proven effective, you should talk to your doctor about it first.
This dietary supplement comes from the body. It’s a synthetic chemical that occurs naturally in your system. It’s not yet approved by FDA, but people in Europe say it’s been used to counter depression’s symptoms. SAMe can cause nausea and other complications, which means you should be careful about taking it, and ask your doctor first about its effects. You should also not use SAMe if you’re currently taking antidepressants. Doing so can lead to harmful consequences.
There’s still a lot of research needed about this drug. This is also the reason why you should not take it without your doctor’s approval.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fats can be found mostly in fish, flax oil and walnuts. These fatty acids have proven to ease the symptoms of depression. More study is needed as to why, but these Omega-3 Fatty acids have shown great relief for those who take them. Many people with bipolar disorder take these supplements and report improvements in their condition. Eating foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids will have heart-healthy benefits, too. But there’s more to study to establish how this treatment improves depression.
There’s also many reports saying that saffron works for depression. Saffron extract has shown to improve depressive symptoms, but, like other digested supplements, more study is needed. It may not hurt to try this out because the risks are so minimal. High doses may not be ideal for you, but a little of it added to your food could be very helpful.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a non-invasive method that stimulates the brain. Small regions of the brain get activated with the pulses of TMS. With the help of TMS by way of a magnetic coil, the brain improves and recovers from depression. There’s more to discover about this treatment method, but so far clinical trials have been especially positive. Some patients use TMS to great effect, and it’s worth looking into finding out if it’s right for you.
There are a lot of treatments out there for depression. You can go for medication, but you can also go for non-invasive treatments like TMS. It’s also essential for people to understand the side effects of these treatments, so before starting any of them always talk to your doctor beforehand.
There’s a lot of information about TMS out there. TMS, by the way, is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It’s currently an effective treatment for depression and its possibilities are constantly being explored. It’s also a non-invasive treatment that helps offer relief to the depressed. Experts describe it as a procedure using magnetic waves. These magnetic waves are targeted towards the brain. The rapid pulses that the electromagnetic coil release do most of the work as far as the treatment is concerned. What the process does is that it releases MRI-strength pulses to the brain through the coil. These are directed at the brain to offer a physical and real remedy to a variety of emotional and behavioral disorders. But how does TMS work? Continue reading to learn more.
What Does TMS Do To The Brain?
The procedure of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is about activating certain parts of the brain. With the help of a magnetic coil, rapid pulses get sent to the brain through the skull. These waves are unimpeded by the skull and go directly go to the brain tissue to normalize activity.
A single burst of TMS also stimulates the visual cortex of the brain, which gives a long-lasting relief. The pulses of TMS also stimulate the right area of the motor cortex, which can also cause the person to twitch. The twitch may usually come from the thumb, but other areas may also get affected and are only temporary.
With the low pulses of stimulation, the depressed brain activity starts to recover. It’s also the hope of TMS to normalize the patient’s behavior. With higher frequency stimulation, the brain gets more excited. More frequency stimulation has proven to be a help for some.
What Is TMS?
The pulses from TMS are all non-invasive, which means their effects have less risk than surgeries and other physical depression treatments. It’s also safe to say that TMS offers a safe alternative treatment for the depressed when medication causes adverse side effects. It’s also a safe alternative for those with negative symptoms of apathy. There’s also proof that TMS offers relief for eating disorders and dystonia. TMS has also been used for people with tinnitus, migraines, and lingering stroke issues.
Level of Effects
There’s much to be expected from this treatment. But, despite impressive clinical trial results, the benefits haven’t all yet to be discovered. Evidence-based practice doesn’t yet place the treatment as the first option for depression. You also need to take your doctor’s advice before trying this method. TMS may not be for everyone. Even if the tingly sensation of the scalp is nothing to worry about, there’s still some potential risks. Many of these risks are still undiscovered, which is one reason the method is usually done only after other options have been exhausted. TMS may be able to help relieve a lot of your symptoms, but the drawbacks may offset its benefits in some instances.
The effectivity of TMS has not been studied enough to make it a frontline effort for depression. It’s still not as recognized as ECT and its effectiveness isn’t yet as widely regarded as well as most major medications.
Still, due to its non-invasive nature and a record of minimal risk of long-lasting side effects, TMS is still growing in popularity. It’s a good alternative approach for the depressed. It’s also a good added tool for those suffering from other psychiatric conditions. The data about its benefits also shows tremendous promise of relief.
With that statement, it’s safe to use TMS as another alternative for mental illness. If you’re planning to receive this treatment, talk to your general practitioner about the side effects or any potential interactions with other treatments you’re already taking.
Depression takes away the joy of living for those suffering from the disorder. About 14 million adults suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Even worse is that there is a lot of evidence showing depression can have serious and detrimental effects on physical health.
The most common signs of depression include:
- Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
- Poor appetite
- Weight problems
- Problems concentrating
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Irritability or restlessness
- Persistent sad feelings
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
Recent studies show that people with depression or anxiety also have a higher chance of suffering strokes or heart attacks. Additionally, some people resort to destructive behavior like substance abuse and self-harm while in various states of depression.
Treating patients suffering from depression is a difficult task. Antidepressants and psychotherapy may offer relief for some people, but many are stuck in a cycle of treatment and relapse.
There is no definite method treating depression, some doctors can only rely on trial and error while hoping for the right combination of therapy and medication. Unfortunately, as many as 50% of patients don’t respond positively to any traditional methods.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved TMS therapy in 2008 as a depression treatment. This new technique uses magnetic pulses placed on the patient’s head.
TMS therapy stimulates the brain’s nerve cells associated with depression. An electromagnetic coil is placed on top of the patient’s head near the forehead. This sends out pulses painlessly to activate the nerve cells associated with mood control. TMS therapy can lessen the symptoms of depression and improve the overall mood of the patient.
It can treat the disorder as effectively as antidepressants or psychotherapy. The only difference with TMS therapy compared to other conventional treatments is the absence of any serious side effects. People who did not respond to medications and psychotherapy can benefit well from TMS therapy.
Success Rate of TMS therapy
TMS therapy can offer patients with the benefits of the traditional treatment with fewer side effects. The method uses magnetic pulses to alter the neural pathways in the brain that show little activity. These magnetic pulses help reset some of the brain’s pathways.
During a TMS therapy session, patients are seated comfortably in a chair, awake and fitted with a helmet. Patients can only feel a repetitive light tapping on the scalp. Usually, TMS sessions last for about 37 minutes for a period of 20 to 30 treatments over a 4 to 6 week period. After each session, patients can immediately resume their normal routines. Many reported having significant improvements in:
- Sleeping patterns
- Fewer episodes of ‘depressive’ thoughts
Many TMS trials show positive results in reducing symptoms of depression. This therapy is a safe alternate method for treating depression. Due to the high success rate, many people are becoming interested in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy.
One study conducted across 22 medical centers in the US, Canada, Europe, and Israel wanted to prove the efficacy of TMS therapy through a total of 230 patients who failed to improve using conventional depression treatments. The findings of the study show that 38.4% of patients experience a decrease in depression symptoms and a low relapse rate. This makes doctors and psychologists optimistic about the future of this treatment method.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a simple technique that uses a small electromagnetic current. This is usually, placed at the front region of the brain. Doctors place a magnetic coil on the scalp where the magnetic field can pass safely and painlessly to the nerve cells in the brain.
The coil sometimes resembles like a large spoon or a paddle which a technician either holds or places in a stand in a metal frame. As the current passes, it stimulates the brain region associated with depression. The result can improve the overall mood of the patient.
TMS and Its Benefits
TMS therapy can produce positive effects through stimulating the patient’s brain, including:
- Improved attention
- Enhancing Perception
- Movement control
- Higher thought processes like executive control and memory skills
How Does TMS Work?
The magnetic current passing from the coil to the head stimulates the brain and temporarily alters its normal function. In a way, TMS therapy can enhance mood and behavior by stimulating brain regions that control specific bodily functions.
For instance, the front of the brain is often related to depression. Stimulating that region with proper magnetic pulses can relieve symptoms associated with that illness. The same principle applies when stimulating an area that can produce opposite effects.
Many studies support this notion thus far and have yielded positive results. Because of that, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS therapy in treating symptoms of depression in 2008. Clinical studies show patients suffering from depression range from 30% to 50% of an improvement. TMS therapy has since become available as a common psychiatric treatment.
Nevertheless, doctors can only recommend TMS therapy for patients who:
- Do not respond well to psychotherapy
- Failed on their previous cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Have recurrent unsuccessful trials with antidepressant medications
In order to combat depression, therapy sessions can last for weeks, which can become rather costly. Some insurance companies will cover the cost, though. TMS also comes with its share of issues, especially when taking prescription drugs. These can include:
- Fainting and seizures when patients are taking certain drugs
- Neck Pain
- Scalp discomfort
TMS research suggests that emotional problems reside at an unconscious level but can be triggered using electromagnetic pulses with relatively few long term side effects. Since emotions come from an unconscious level, we are all unaware of the immediate factors behind them. Still, depression is often associated with an area of the brain that shows decreased activity.
TMS, when administered in rapid succession, helps activate parts of the brain associated with the mental illness being remedied. Stimulating these regions can have an immediate impact on improving a patient’s mood. Doctors target these areas by sending out magnetic pulses to stimulate them.
Some of the benefits of TMS therapy include:
- It’s the only FDA approved non-invasive therapy for treating depression
- Patients show positive improvement after TMS therapy
- Several studies discovered TMS therapy yields more improvement compared other treatments
- Patients who go through TMS therapy have fewer hospital and doctor visits. They also need less antidepressant medication
- Even when patients react poorly in their previous therapies, they still have a 50% better chance recovering from depression
Around 14.8 million adults in the US, 6.7% of the country’s total population, suffer from major depression at any given time. Sadly, antidepressants, medication, and psychotherapy don’t always work for everyone who takes them.
Traditional Depression Treatment
Researchers estimate 28% to 33% of people with major depression experience an improvement after treatment with an antidepressant.
There are several depression treatments that have been available for years, including:
- Antidepressant drugs
- Augmentation with second antidepressant medications
- Mood stabilizers
- Second-generation antipsychotics
However, in October 2008, the FDA approved a new depression treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy. This new approach can help patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) who don’t respond well to antidepressant drugs.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS is a simple non-invasive procedure that utilizes magnetic pulses. These magnetic fields help stimulate the nerve brain cells, improving depression symptoms. However, doctors usually only recommend using TMS when all other methods failed.
What happens during rTMS?
In a TMS therapy session, a TMS physician places an electromagnet coil on the patient’s scalp near the forehead or in the frontal lobe. The machine will then send out electromagnetic pulses from the scalp and into the nerve brain cells. The rapid succession of magnetic pulses treatment is called repetitive TMS or rTMS. It helps activate parts of the brain that have decreased activity, which in turn improves mood. Experts associate this inactive area of the brain with depression, and the magnetic pulses stimulate that region of the brain.
This new method involves placing a helmet on the patient. This helmet sends the aforementioned electromagnetic pulses. To effectively treat depression, patients may need to undergo 5 sessions per week for 6 weeks. Each session takes about 40 minutes in the doctor’s office. Because treatment isn’t a major procedure, patients can resume their daily routine immediately after each session.
As good as it may seem, rTMS is not for everyone. The machine acts like an MRI machine and can cause damage to metal or any metallic-sensitive materials. rTMS may cause the materials to move, overheat, and even malfunction. Because of this, patients who have any of the following cannot undergo rTMS treatment:
- Aneurysm coils
- Bullet fragments located near the head
- Deep brain stimulators
- Electrodes used to monitor brain activity
- Facial tattoos with metallic ink
- Metallic implants
- Other metal devices or object implanted in the body particularly in the near the head
- Stents in the neck or brain
Further, rTMS doctors need to check the overall health condition of each patient. Some exams that the patient needs to pass include the following:
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Physical exams & laboratory testing
- Patients taking any medications like over-the-counter drugs and other supplements
- People who may have coexisting mental disorder
- Patients with a family history of seizures or epilepsy
- Any brain damage suffered from injury or other illnesses
- Severe episodes of headaches
- other medical conditions
Still Needs Further Studies
Although the full concept of rTMS remains vague, the stimulation has proven to be an effective tool in easing depression symptoms. rTMS treatment may involve continuous treatment until the patient is symptom-free and researchers are optimistic that symptoms will rarely return.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression. This figure also includes the elderly who have depression at a rate of one in five, or 20 percent. Annually, an estimated one million people take their lives when their depression becomes too much to bear. In the United States, about 28% to 33% of people suffering from this mental condition experience improvement after an initial antidepressant treatment. However, a negative stigma attached to therapy in the US means some may never get the help they need.
Over the past few decades, the medical community has developed several methods in the fight against depression. Some of these strategies include:
- Antidepressant drugs
- Augmentation with patients taking second antidepressant drugs
- Mood stabilizers
- Second-generation antipsychotics
In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a new depression treatment method called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Today, doctors recommend using what are called ‘helmet treatments’ for those who suffer from depression.
TMS helmets send out painless electromagnetic pulses toward the scalp and into the brain. The rapid sequence of pulses or repetitive TMS (rTMS) does the following:
- Stimulates parts of the brain with decreased activity
- Improves patient’s overall mood and behavior
- Decreases symptoms of depressions
This technique has shown great promise as an alternative to antidepressants in treating depression. Still, doctors seldom recommend this new technique as not everyone can undergo the treatment. The machine operates like MRI and it greatly reacts to any metallic origin. Additionally,rTMS can do irreversible harm to people with:
- Bullet fragments near head
- Deep brain stimulators
- Electrodes used to monitor brain activity
- Facial tattoos with metallic ink
- Metallic implants
- Other metal device or object implanted in the body particularly in the near the head
During the Procedure
In rTMS, patients are required to wear a helmet filled with electromagnetic coils. These coils send out magnetic pulses to stimulate specific regions of the brain. This causes electrical currents that rouse activity in the dormant area of the brain, which are associated with depression. Underactive neurons are put into use, and during the treatment process, resets brain chemistry to enhance mood behaviors.
As ECT Replacement
Many people make direct comparisons between TMS and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), but doctors say these two treatments are notably different from each other. Since the 1940s, the medical community has used ECT to treat severe depression, but it requires sedation of patients before strapping them to a stretcher. ECT induces seizures to release neurotransmitters whereas TMS stimulates nerve cells to make them more active. For doctors, TMS acts as a mild and more humane alternative compared to ECT.
Is rTMS safe for Treating Depression?
Over 60 clinical studies conducted worldwide have found rTMS to be a safe and effective method of treating depression. The studies also found out that:
- rTMS can lower the symptoms of depression
- It’s a painless treatment and doesn’t require sedation
- Patients can immediately resume daily activity after each session
- Most patients do not experience serious side effects
However, patients have reported experiencing some temporary minor side effects, including:
- irritation of the scalp
- mild to moderate headache
- Scalp soreness at the site of stimulation
- Spasms or twitching of facial muscles
Because the method is new, additional studies may be needed to determine all of the benefits from TMS as well as to understand the long-term effects of rTMS. For information about the role of TMS in substance abuse, read our report on the topic.