Feelings of depression affect most people at one time or another. For most, it’s a temporary reaction to a life event. For others, it’s a long-term condition marked by prolonged feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, low energy and even suicidal thoughts. Often this condition is inherited; but either way, it affects families and loved ones of the sufferers.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is one of the most promising therapies to ease symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) and give patients a brighter outlook and a brighter future. Dr. Michael Caruso, Ed.D, of Physician Partners of America Health and Counseling offers this gentle, non-invasive therapy in his Hurst, Texas, practice under the brand name MoodLift.
“It’s a fairly new approach in the U.S. but one that has been proven for decades in Europe,” said Dr. Caruso. “TMS works in patients who have not responded to medications – we call them inverse responders – who want another alternative.”
More than 16 million Americans suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 3.3 million suffer from Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD, formerly known as dysthymia). If this describes you or a loved one, it’s likely you’ve spent some time searching for the right solution.
Medications can indeed provide relief, but they come with side-effects ranging from weight gain to insomnia to diminished sex drive. Another downside is that they typically take weeks to work. One large study of antidepressant effectiveness found just 30% of patients became symptom-free within four months. That can lead to a long journey of medication-switching. Some people don’t respond well to them – or at all.
For severe depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can produce fast relief from severe depression. It’s important to note that today’s ECT is a far cry from the grotesque “shock treatments” of the old days in which patients were awake, often suffering bitten tongues and broken bones. Today’s ECT is performed in a hospital and patients are fully sedated. Still, it is still considered a radical treatment that carries risks including dizziness, sleep problems and lingering memory loss.
MoodLift is Different
TMS is called for when anti-depressants fail, and it is much gentler than ECT. The procedure is carried out in a chair in a physician’s office, and the patient is awake. TMS uses a focused electromagnet to quickly pulse a magnetic field onto the targeted areas of the brain in which depression has reduced cellular activity. The magnetic pulses stimulate the brain cells into greater activity.
What Does TMS Feel Like?
A magnetic coil is placed on parts of the head. Patients feel a moderate tapping sensation on the head while undergoing the half-hour to 45-minute treatment. Treatments are typically done five days a week for six weeks.
Possible Side Effects
TMS has been proven safe and reported side effects are short-lived. It is highly tolerable to most patients. Clinical studies show the most common effects are mild to moderate discomfort of the scalp and brief, mild headaches.
MoodLift can be used alone but it has also been shown to enhance the effects of both anti-depressant medication and talk therapy. It is recommended to people who can’t tolerate anti-depressant side effects or who don’t want to take medication.
- Studies show about 58 percent of patients with treatment-resistant MDD respond well to TMS
- MoodLift technology has been in use in Europe since the 1990s and is now FDA-approved to treat MDD
- Recommended for people who can’t tolerate medication or don’t wish to take it
- Non-invasive outpatient treatment
Living with depression can seem like a long and hopeless road, and finding the right treatment can take time. MoodLift may be just the right answer. For more information, call Dr. Caruso at PPOA Health and Counseling at 469-528-6583, Ext. 1843