Everyone has dealt with a case of the blues, but for the 14 million Americans who suffer from chronic depression, these feelings of sadness and loss of interest don’t disappear. Trying to explain depression to a friend or family member can be difficult, because there isn’t an easy solution to the problem. About half of those diagnosed with depression each year seek treatment in the form of antidepressants, pills taken on a regular basis to help curb depression-related symptoms and feelings.
“Antidepressants can be an effective way of treating depression, but increasing numbers of people are hesitant to be prescribed an antidepressant because of the side effects,” says Jessica Kalbach of TMS Patient Coordinator at the Main Line Health Center at Newtown Square.
Side effects of antidepressants can include weight gain, blood pressure changes, fatigue, nausea, and insomnia, among others. In addition to these side effects, it’s not guaranteed that antidepressants will work for everyone. Still it was the primary method of treatment for chronic depression.
That is, until recently.
A new device, called The NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy system, has an answer for those whose depression can’t be treated with prescription antidepressants. As the first and only non-invasive device of its kind cleared for the treatment of depression, TMS therapy is proven to treat major depression in adults who haven’t responded to antidepressants.
“What’s exciting about TMS treatment is that it presents an opportunity for those patients who previously felt like there was no other avenue for them to explore to treat their depression,” says Kalbach.
TMS therapy works by using a treatment coil to send a pulsed magnetic field to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls mood and allows for precise and focused treatment. These magnetic fields produce small electrical currents in the brain that cause the release of neurotransmitters, which has been linked to improved mood and a decrease in depression symptoms.
Unlike antidepressants, TMS therapy has no short-term side effects. The electrical currents and magnetic fields are not felt by the patient, and are equal to those that a patient might experience during an MRI.
Although TMS therapy has been proved to be effective in patients who haven’t responded to antidepressants, Kalbach reminds patients to discuss all of their options with their doctor.
“When it comes to choosing a treatment, it all depends on the patient. Some might respond well to antidepressants, and it’s important to try that before discussing TMS therapy. Talk about it with your physician before making any decision,” she says.
Currently, Main Line Health offers TMS treatment at the Main Line Health Center at Newtown Square. The TMS Center provides treatment for depression with the Neurostar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy System. For more information on the treatment, see our patient brochure. Talk to your physician about whether or not TMS treatment is appropriate for you.
If you are noticing the signs and symptoms of depression, make an appointment with a Main Line Health physician who can diagnose you and talk to you about your treatment options. If you are interested to find out if you are a candidate for TMS treatment you can sent up an initial consultation by calling 888.227.3898.