Sit through any television show for an hour and chances are a minimum of six commercials pushing pharmaceuticals will invade your home. We might even get a chuckle listening to the long list of horrible side effects rattled off while images of happy people frolic across a blissful landscape. The truth is, we are a nation of pill poppers.
While medications for this or that health condition can be a lifesaver, when it comes to mental health the jury is out in about a third of cases. For the individuals who were able to find relief from depression through antidepressant drug therapy, awesome! However, for the remaining 30%-50% symptoms persist. Side effects caused by the drugs can further dampen spirits, only worsening the feelings of depression.
So what are those folks supposed to do, those who continue to struggle with the effects of depression? What alternatives exist to help them improve when antidepressants failed to help them? There are options for managing depression without meds, including TMS therapy.
About TMS Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an alternative solution for managing depression without meds, offering new hope for many who have been frustrated by multiple trials of antidepressants. TMS does not involve any hospital stay or surgery, therefore is provided drug-free. The TMS therapy sessions are conducted within an office setting with the patient fully awake throughout the 40-minute sessions. Because there is no general anesthesia needed and no invasive procedures, there is very little risk involved. Some patients have reported mild to moderate headaches, facial tingling or numbness, or scalp tenderness, but these effects turn out to be transient.
So what exactly is TMS? TMS falls into the category of depression treatments called brain stimulation, or neuromodulation, techniques. This entails using electrical currents to alter neurons within the left dorsal prefrontal cortex of the brain. TMS relies on magnetic fields that are administered as repetitive pulses through a coil that is positioned over the left side of the scalp.
The repetitive currents act as a stimulus for brain cells in the limbic region that are underactive. This is one of the common traits seen in patients with treatment-resistant depression, the sluggish neurons. TMS therapy activates these targeted neurons, eventually resulting in a rebalancing of this particular cluster of brain cells. TMS is effectively managing depression without meds through the use of electromagnetic energy.
Does TMS Really Work?
TMS therapy has been extensively studied, with dozens and dozens of clinical trials completed worldwide over a period of twenty years. In 2008 TMS was FDA-cleared for the treatment-resistant major depressive disorder after demonstrating through multiple sham-controlled studies that it is both safe and effective for managing depression without meds.
Most patients with depression will receive a treatment plan of 4-6 weeks with 5 sessions weekly. Positive changes begin to emerge after the second week of TMS sessions, such as better sleep quality. Over the course of TMS treatment, the patients may notice they are more alert, have more energy, and are in a better frame of mind.
It is common to receive a TMS maintenance session on occasion to help extend the remission. These may be scheduled as a once a month session, or may be prescribed for a one-month period after the 6-month remission point. Some patients may benefit from complementary antidepressant treatment, which can also boost clinical effects and extend remission.
7 More Ways of Managing Depression Without Meds
There are several areas to consider that can help manage the effects of depression. Because the causes of depression are so varied and unique, it may benefit the individual to try a variety of alternative methods and lifestyle adjustments in hopes of at least one of them making a real difference.
- Physical activity. Scientific evidence abounds for the benefits of getting physical activity at least 3 times per week. Find a couple of activities you enjoy and schedule them into your regular routine. Fitness can improve energy, sleep quality, and mood while also making you stronger and more toned.
- Relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques include yoga, mindfulness training, massage therapy, acupuncture, equine therapy, deep breathing exercises, art or music therapy, journaling, aromatherapy, and sound therapy.
- Journaling. Our thoughts and emotions need a healthy outlet while recovering from depression. Journaling is an excellent practice to help dump the upsetting thoughts and feelings out of our heads and onto paper where we can leave them. Journaling is also a great way to note the positive events and things you feel grateful for in your life
- Get quality sleep. Make it a daily self-care priority to get enough hours of sleep (7-8 hours is recommended) by acquiring new sleep habits. Avoid caffeinated beverages after mid-afternoon, avoid eating after 7:00pm, and avoid strenuous workouts after 7pm. Shut down electronics and TV an hour before bedtime.
- Diet. There is evidence that diet can impact our moods. Make it a daily habit to incorporate lots of lean proteins, nuts and seeds, leafy greens and fresh fruits, and whole grain breads and pasta. Avoid processed foods, sodas, sugary treats, and excessive caffeine.
- Find a hobby. Consider rediscovering a hobby you once enjoyed but may have allowed to lapse over the years. Or pick up a new hobby—take a class, join a Meet Up group, join a book club, take up Pickle Ball, or refine your photography skills.
- Set new goals. Consider how long it has been since you set out to achieve a new goal. Maybe it is time to get outside your comfort zone and set some new benchmarks—train for a 5K or 10K, revamp your personal financial goals, or start a home improvement project. Push yourself to accomplish something new and you will feel great about yourself.
It is entirely possible to manage depression without meds through the practice of these activities along with TMS therapy. If antidepressants didn’t help your depression, don’t give up. Learn about how TMS can help you regain your quality of life.
TMS Therapy Near Me Offers Guidance Toward Locating TMS Services
TMS Therapy Near Me is an online resource that can connect you with a TMS provider in your area. All providers have been carefully vetted to ensure we guide you to the very best TMS experts available. If antidepressants have disappointed you, contact TMS Therapy Near Me to see if you would be a candidate for this exciting breakthrough in the treatment of depression.