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Transcranial magnetic stimulation promising for treatment-resistant depression
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Transcranial magnetic stimulation promising for treatment-resistant depression

Patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) do not benefit from antidepressants from two different classes, respond only partially, or struggle with the side effects of the medication. While treatment usually involves switching medicines from varying classes, a promising novel therapy currently drawing the attention of experts is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TMS for treating TRD in 2008. “TMS has become a promising treatment alternative for an estimated 30 to 50 percent of people with depression who don’t respond sufficiently to antidepressant medications,” said Dr. Debra Stulz, a renowned neurologist in West Virginia.

Non-invasive and safe intervention

The prefrontal cortex region of the brain receives repeated magnetic currents in this non-invasive treatment modality. The TMS machine has an H coil, which stimulates wider and deeper regions of the brain. Patients receiving this treatment can drive safely to and from the center since there is no need of any sedation or monitoring.

Treatment commences with a session devoted to mapping the brain in which the most effective stimulation points are established along with the required field strength. One session lasts for around 20 minutes and is given five times a week for a period of four to six weeks.

The procedure has also been used for pregnant women and has been found to be safe. Additionally, it is also used for managing migraine. Further scope of the intervention, primarily for the treatment of other mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), autism, bipolar depression, stroke rehabilitation, substance abuse, Parkinson’s and negative signs of schizophrenia, is being explored.

2018 treatment plans to incorporate TMS

The West Virginia School of Medicine has declared that it will expand the treatment options for depression by incorporating TMS in the protocol from 2018 onwards. The technique will be used for modulating those active parts of the brain which produce cravings. Though the deep magnetic currents produce a minor headache, this can be taken care of by using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen.

The TMS treatment approach is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. It can also be used for veterans provided the latter can arrange a request from their primary care physicians. TMS is counter indicated in patients with cochlear implants, vagus nerve stimulators, stents, deep brain stimulators, metallic implants and patients experiencing seizures. It is also not meant for patients who are suicidal or psychotic.

Dealing with depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) continues to be one of the leading causes of disability in the United States in the age group of 15 to 44.3 years. In a given year, it afflicts more than 16.1 million Americans. Experts agree that in comparison to men, women are more susceptible to depression.

Multiple patients struggling with depression do not get any respite in their symptoms from the conventional treatment approach. For them, TMS looks like a promising therapy. It is, however, important to first seek treatment through medication and counseling for symptom resolution from a licensed rehab center.

Sovereign Health of Arizona is a leading behavioral health treatment center, catering to only women. In addition to providing evidence-based therapies for managing depression, our recovery programs also provide women with the necessary coping skills required to maintain an overall good health and prevent any relapse.

For more information on our inpatient depression treatment for women or to locate our state-of-the-art depression treatment for women in Arizona, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our trained representatives.

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