Depression is one of the most common conditions suffered by Australians, with an estimated one million people dealing with it each year. Depression treatment can be very difficult and those who have had depression know it is not easy to become your true self again. One of the most effective treatments is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a drug-free alternative that offers real solutions.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that improves the symptoms of depression through the use of magnetic fields that stimulate nerve cells. It is particularly effective for people who are suffering from depression but have had little success with other depression treatments.
It is an entirely painless alternative treatment that is medicine-free.
When a patient undergoes a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against their scalp near the forehead. A magnetic pulse is then painlessly delivered into the part of the brain that is responsible for mood control and has a significant impact on levels of depression. The biology of TMS is not yet completely understood by scientists, but its results have been well documented. The indications are that it stimulates that area of the brain, improving the mood of the patient and reducing the symptoms of depression.
Treatment for depression often requires repetitive use of TMS, which is referred to as rTMS.
For some people, standard depression treatments are not effective. In many cases, medications and psychotherapy (speaking with counsellors and other professionals) simply don’t work. That’s when it is often a good option to try alternative treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Typically, a good time to consider TMS as an option is when two or more antidepressants have failed to reduce the symptoms of depression.
There are many benefits to choosing TMS as a treatment for depression, beginning with the fact that it is drug-free. Many people are concerned about the side effects of consuming antidepressant medications, for good reason. Antidepressants can have a number of documented side effects on the human body, ranging from nausea and weight gain through to insomnia and loss of sexual desire. TMS has been used on patients for more than three decades and there have been no long-term risks associated with the procedure.
Another benefit is that is a very easy process, with patients staying awake and alert throughout. You can have a cup of tea, listen to some relaxing music and read a magazine while it is being performed.
And of course, the greatest benefit is that it works. Patients report a great improvement in their depression symptoms, even when other treatments have failed. The improvement is not limited to the period when the treatment is being carried out – generally between four and eight weeks – but also continues well afterwards. A number of studies have shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation has significant long-term effects for patients.