If you watch television you are well aware of the onslaught of commercials promoting pharmaceuticals, the ones that can barely squeeze the long list of side effects into the 60-second spots. Of course, truth in advertising and FDA requirements ensure that potential side effects of a drug are cited. Even so, when someone is suffering from a physical or mental health condition all those side effects can become white noise—they just want relief.
For individuals struggling with the debilitating effects of major depression, most are more than willing to try antidepressants, despite their long list of adverse effects. Depression can completely hobble a person, keeping them a prisoner in a dark cell within the mind and preventing them from normal daily functioning. It makes perfect sense to roll the dice and hope that the drug will successfully relieve them of the symptoms that are negatively impacting their quality of life.
The hard truth, however, is that 30%-50% of patients taking antidepressants not only do not achieve relief of symptoms, but instead may suffer often intolerable side effects from the drugs. Depression medication side effects can be so distasteful that many times the patient simply gives up, discontinuing the trial completely. After trialing multiple antidepressants without success, the patient is determined to be medication-resistant. At this point, these frustrated and increasingly hopeless individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) have only alternative measures to explore.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is one such alternative treatment option that was FDA cleared in 2008 to treat medication-resistant MDD. The success of TMS for helping individuals reclaim their quality of life has fueled its popularity as a viable treatment option over the past decade among patients who could not tolerate the depression medication side effects. Ongoing clinical studies worldwide continue to demonstrate the safe and effective treatment results and TMS Therapy success rate.
About Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder (MDD) effects over 16 million U.S. adults each year, according to statistics provided by the National Institute of Mental Health. Many individuals with MDD also struggle with a comorbid mental health condition, such as substance use disorder or anxiety, compounding the treatment challenges. Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, causing impairment across many aspects of an individual’s daily life.
The DSM-5 established a set of diagnostic criteria for MDD that can assist physicians and mental health professionals in determining the presence and acuity of the depression. These criteria include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report or observation made by others.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities more of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
What Are the Potential Depression Medication Side Effects?
Medications that treat MDD can be selected from several types of antidepressants, including SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. Each of these category of drugs will have their own list of possible depression medication side effects, but in general these might include:
- Weight gain
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Sexual dysfunction or lack of desire
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
What is TMS Therapy?
TMS therapy uses powerful magnetic fields produced by technology similar to an MRI. TMS is noninvasive, meaning there is no surgery or incision involved, thereby reducing the risks associated with anesthesia and infection. The patient is fully alert during the sessions, seated comfortably.
During the sessions, a coil will be positioned on the patient’s scalp that directs the magnetic pulses toward the left prefrontal cortex, or the mood center, of the brain. The patient will hear and feel a tapping sensation during the therapy session. Each session lasts 40 minutes, and are administered five days per week for 4-6 weeks.
How Does TMS Work?
TMS therapy works by inducing electrical currents that reach about 2 cm into the brain tissue in the targeted limbic system. These currents act as stimulators, basically waking up the dormant brain cells in this region. Underactive neurons in the limbic region are commonly detected in brain imaging scans of patients with MDD.
Over the period of the TMS treatment plan, the brain chemistry is rebalanced as a result of the stimulating of these targeted brain cells. As brain chemistry normalizes, the patient will likely experience continued improvements in concentration, alertness, energy level, sleep quality, and overall mood.
Research Continues to Support TMS Safety and Efficacy
Over 60 clinical studies of TMS have been conducted globally, testing the safety and efficacy of TMS therapy for treating depression that was not responsive to antidepressant drug therapy. The majority of the double-blind placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in the depression measurement scales administered before and after the trials, such as the Hamilton Depression Scale. A large-scale meta-analysis of data from several TMS clinical trials shows a response rate of 46.2% vs. the placebo (sham) group of 22.1%.
TMS therapy is very well tolerated as a whole. Few side effects are reported, but of those that are, such as mild to moderate headache or scalp irritation, the symptoms were transient, resolving spontaneously over the course of TMS treatment sessions.
Say Goodbye to Depression Medication Side Effects with TMS Therapy
Anew Era TMS provides comprehensive treatment services for individuals with depression, specializing in offering expert TMS therapy. At Anew Era TMS you will be greeted by compassionate, professional therapists who understand your feelings of frustration. Dedicated to improving patients’ quality of life, the highly trained doctors and technicians will access the healing properties of TMS technology to do just that. To learn if you are a candidate for TMS therapy, please contact Anew Era TMS today at (888) 503-1549.