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Depression results in a persistent state of sadness or a loss of the ability to experience pleasure. Those experiencing depression often lose interest in everyday activities or hobbies that were once enjoyed. According to the standard diagnosis guide (DSM-V) published by the American Psychiatric Association, depression is diagnosed when an individual is experiencing either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure plus four or more of the following symptoms during the same two-week period:
Depression symptoms are most often treated with antidepressant medications. It is believed that antidepressant medications work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These changes have a positive effect on mood and reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, treating major depression is sometimes more complicated and requires more than antidepressants.
Although antidepressants can be effective for many patients, they do not work for everybody. This condition is sometimes referred to as treatment resistant depression, or drug resistant depression. Although not a scientific term, treatment resistant depression is real and debilitating for those dealing with it.
Additionally, since antidepressant medications are typically taken by mouth, they circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body, often resulting in unwanted side effects such as weight gain, sexual problems, upset stomach, sleepiness, and dry mouth. More than 4 million patients do not receive adequate benefit from antidepressants and/or cannot tolerate the side effects caused by them.
For these patients, alternative treatments for depression are available. These depression therapies have proven to work in some people that do not receive benefit from antidepressants and/or cannot tolerate the side effects caused by them. These treatments include: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
Recent research with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has offered a new alternative treatment for depression. Focused stimulation of targeted regions in the brain with pulsed magnetic fields may have a positive effect on the brain’s neurotransmitters levels. Treating depression with transcranial magnetic stimulation, also referred to as TMS Therapy, provides an alternative depression treatment for those who have not benefitted from prior antidepressant medication.