When Antidepressants Don’t Work
The gray veil of depression can touch every aspect of a person’s life, from work, to family relationships, to one’s marriage. The struggle to lift the veil and find joy again can often be a frustrating one. Possibly you have sought treatment for your depression and been disappointed in the lack of response you had to the antidepressants you had trialed. Your doctor may have had you try several different medications, and still none have effectively improved the depression symptoms.
An astounding 11% of Americans over the age of 12 have reported taking antidepressants, as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health. In fact, the report continued, in 2010 254 million prescriptions were written for the drugs. Antidepressants were lauded back in the 80s as the miracle cure for major depression, but as more and more clinical trials are revealing, as many as 50% of the patients who were prescribed antidepressants did not experience a successful result—on antidepressants but still depressed.
Why Am I On Antidepressants But Still Depressed?
When diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), the usual treatment protocol is to prescribe a combination of talk therapy and antidepressants. This cookie cutter approach to treating depression does not acknowledge the many variants involved in depression, making MDD a difficult mental health disorder to effectively treat. The heavy prescribing of of antidepressants has become a knee jerk response to an MDD diagnosis, even though evidence, such as a recent study out of Rome, shows that between 30%-50% of patients do not improve on the drugs.
The jury is still out as to why antidepressants don’t work for such a wide swath of patients, but the fact is they don’t make a dent in the depression symptoms suffered by so many. For those on antidepressants but still depressed, many will also experience highly unpleasant side effects from the medications. Side effects can include weight gain, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, changes in personality, nausea, insomnia, and constipation. Because the side effects can prove to be intolerable, many patients do not complete the trial.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is the second most common mental health disorder experienced by Americans. Over 17 million people are afflicted with this debilitating condition each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Add an additional 2.3 million adolescents who struggle with depression, and it is clear that depression is a serious mental health problem in the U.S.
Science is still not certain what exactly causes an individual to acquire a depressive disorder. However, there are some known factors that are contributory to the condition, including:
- Mood regulation in the brain is faulty, chemical imbalance
- Family history of depression (genetics)
- Stressful or traumatic life events
- Medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, lupus, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and kidney disease
- Medication side effects
- Co-occurring substance use disorder
What Are the Different Types of Depression?
A diagnosis of depression is made when a patient exhibits five or more of the nine diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-5 lasting more than two weeks. These criteria include:
- Low mood, feelings of despair or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies
- Change in eating habits leading to sudden weight gain or loss
- Change in sleeping habits caused by insomnia or hypersomnia
- Slowed functioning, both cognitive and motor
- Inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame
- Inability to make decisions or concentrate
- Thoughts of death or suicide
There are different types of depressive disorder, each with unique features that differentiate the types. These different types of depression include:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The symptoms listed above
- Dysthymia. A persistent type of depression, a milder form of MDD but lasting two years or longer
- Premenopausal Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Associated with a women’s hormonal cycle as a more severe form of PMS
- Postpartum Depression. Feelings of sadness, irritability, mood swings following the birth of a baby
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Occurs in areas further from the equator that receive minimal natural daylight during winter months, causing depression symptoms
- Bipolar Disorder. Features intense mood swings, alternating between depressive episodes and manic episodes
TMS Offers New Hope for Treating Treatment-Resistant Depression
A fairly recent entry into the depression treatment landscape is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a brain stimulation therapy cleared by the FDA for treating treatment-resistant MDD in 2008. TMS has been found to be safe and effective in helping patients who were not able to achieve a successful outcome with antidepressants.
TMS is a noninvasive treatment that requires no sedation, so the patient is fully alert during the 40-minute therapy sessions and can drive him or herself home following treatment. TMS uses repetitive magnetic pulses through a coil that is place on the scalp over the left prefrontal cortex, the brain’s mood center. The electromagnetic currents target the underactive brain cells and stimulate them. Over the treatment period of 4-6 weeks, brain chemistry is rebalanced and patients experience improvements in sleep quality, energy levels, focus and concentration, and general mood.
Is TMS Therapy Safe?
TMS therapy has been the focus of clinical testing and research globally for the past twenty years. Abundant statistical evidence demonstrates that TMS therapy is a safe, well-tolerated alternative treatment option for individuals who were unresponsive to traditional antidepressant therapy.
One of the primary reasons for the safety of TMS involves the absence of invasive surgery or general anesthesia. Both of these pose serious health risks that are not present for individuals accessing TMS therapy. The treatment sessions are conducted in a doctor’s office while the patient is fully alert. The patient needs no recovery period after the treatment session and is free to drive immediately after the TMS.
Some minor side effects have been reported associated with TMS therapy. Patients may have experienced mild to moderate headache, facial tingling, or scalp irritation. These transient effects tend to dissipate spontaneously as the treatments continue.
Can TMS Also Help Anxiety?
Individuals with co-occurring anxiety disorders have also reported improvements in those symptoms as well as the depression symptoms. In particular, patients with coexisting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experienced symptom relief following treatment with TMS therapy. Many TMS practitioners now use TMS therapy off-label to treat individuals whose primary mental health disorder is anxiety.
TMS Clinical testing continues in Europe and the U.S. for applying the technology to the treatment of a wide variety of medical and psychological conditions. These include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, OCD, PTSD, stroke rehabilitation, smoking cessation, chronic pain, and schizophrenia. In Europe and Israel, TMS therapy has already been cleared to treat several of these conditions.
Anew Era TMS Provides TMS Therapy to Treat Major Depressive Disorder
Anew Era TMS is a top TMS provider in California. The experts at Anew Era TMS are specially trained doctors and technicians who are dedicated to helping individuals with treatment-resistant depression regain the joy in life. For those who are on antidepressants but still depressed, Magstim TMS therapy can provide new hope using this cutting edge alternative treatment for stubborn depression.
Visit the Anew Era TMS website where you can take an online version of a popular depression screening tool called the PHQ-9, watch and read TMS Reviews, and review TMS Therapy Cost and Insurance accepted. This tool uses the nine diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to help you determine if you are suffering from depression. For more information about TMS, contact Anew Era today at (888) 503-1549.