Depression is among the most common mental health disorders affecting people around the world. In the United States, more than 19 million adults—nearly 8% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year (NAMI.org).
What is it?
We often associate, or even confuse, Depression with sadness, but depression goes beyond that and ranges from mild to severe. Depression is a Mood Disorder and is defined by the DSM-V – what clinicians use to diagnose a patient with a disorder – as experiencing five or more of the following symptoms in the last 2 weeks:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
How Depression is treated
The most common treatment for depression remains to be antidepressant medications: SNRIs and SSRIs. Both target neurotransmitters differently in the brain. This then helps relieve symptoms of depression.
Seratonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitos (SNRIs)
SNRIs raise levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters in the brain that play a key role in stabilizing mood. Examples include duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs block the reuptake, or absorption, of serotonin in the brain. This makes it easier for the brain cells to receive and send messages, resulting in better and more stable moods.
Antidepressants can be effective in treating depression, but also come with possible side effects that many find intolerable.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy and Depression
TMS Therapy was developed to treat major depressive disorder, or depression, by using MRI-strength magnetic pulses that activate the part of the brain that is inactive in depressed people.
Benefits of TMS
It is ideal for people who have not found antidepressant medication to be helpful in treating their depression, want to get off medications due to side effects, or want their medications to be more effective. For many people, depression symptoms significantly improved or went away after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment with TMS.
Read about one patient’s journey as she told People Magazine in 2020.