When major depressive disorder refuses to release its grip on your life, the search for alternative treatment may lead the patient to a cranial therapy such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Brain stimulation techniques are available for those individuals whose attempts to find relief through traditional routes, such as psychotherapy and antidepressants, has not succeeded.
Although both ECT treatment and TMS therapy are brain modulation techniques that involve the direct contact of the brain via electrical currents or magnetic fields, they have significantly different features. Having a general understanding of these important differences may help the treatment-resistant individual seeking alternative treatment for their depression select the best option for their needs.
What is ECT Treatment?
ECT, also referred to as shock therapy, first appeared on the mental health treatment scene in the 1930s in Italy. Historically, ECT was an extreme treatment measure reserved for the most severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, and left some patients with serious injuries. Broken bones and teeth caused by the violent seizures during treatment, along with negative portrayals of the procedure in popular movies, left the ECT treatment with a stigma that still persists today. However, in recent years, new protocols have the patients take muscle relaxant medication and a wear a mouth guard to greatly reduce injuries.
ECT treatment involves delivering high electrical current levels through pads that are positioned over the scalp while the patient is sedated with a general anesthesia. The electrical currents induce a seizure, which alters the neurotransmitters, easing the symptoms of major depression. The treatments take about ten minutes and the patient is able to resume their normal daily activities after about an hour of recovery time. Generally, 6-12 treatment sessions are prescribed to treat major depression or depression with psychosis.
Pros of ECT
ECT has been found, in clinical studies, to be the most effect form of brain modulating techniques in relieving the symptoms of major depression.
Cons of ECT
ECT requires sedation, which has a long list of potential risks associated with it. Memory loss and confusion are common side effects of the treatment. Often, a hospital stay is required for ECT treatments, making it a more cumbersome treatment option.
What is TMS Therapy?
TMS therapy is a fairly recent entry in the area of brain stimulation treatments. In 2008 the FDA cleared TMS to treat major depression disorder in patients who were treatment-resistant to antidepressants. It has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for depression, and well tolerated.
TMS works by using magnetic fields produced by technology similar to an MRI machine. The repetitive magnetic pulses are delivered through a coil that is placed over the scalp while the patient is fully alert. The magnetic fields induce electrical currents that target the prefrontal cortex of the brain, altering the neurotransmitters. When the currents stimulate these brain cells, brain chemistry is reset and symptoms are gradually relieved. Treatment sessions last about 40 minutes and are prescribed for 4-6 weeks.
Pros of TMS
TMS therapy does not require any sedation, thereby avoiding all the risks associated with general anesthesia. TMS is an outpatient procedure and non-invasive. There is no down time, the patient can immediately return to daily activities. TMS is covered by most health insurance plans offering more accessibility to more people.
Cons of TMS
On rare occasions some patients experience scalp irritation where the coil sits on the scalp, and some may experience mild to moderate headaches. In most cases, these side effects resolve on their own.
Anew Era TMS a Leading Provider of TMS Therapy for Treatment of Depression
Anew Era TMS has but one mission—to help individuals who struggle with treatment-resistant depression to finally find relief from its crippling symptoms. The TMS experts at Anew Era TMS are dedicated to helping patients achieve an improved quality of life using the highly rated Magstim technology. For more information about how TMS therapy can help you reclaim your joy, please contact Anew Era TMS today at (888) 503-1549.