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Advancement in Brain Stimulation Offers a Glimmer of Hope for Treating Depression

Sunday, November 5th 2023 10:00am 5 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

The fundamental approaches we employ to address depression have remained relatively stable in recent times. Primary methods involve the use of medications and therapeutic conversations. Complementary strategies, including promoting physical activity, ensuring adequate sleep, and fostering social connections, are frequently included. In situations where depression persists, an alternative treatment option for some individuals involves transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive method of brain stimulation. This technique has shown efficacy in specific cases and is associated with minimal adverse effects.

Nonetheless, undergoing TMS necessitates a substantial time commitment, typically requiring 36 sessions spread across six to nine weeks. Research indicates that approximately one-third of individuals who undergo this treatment experience complete relief from their depression symptoms. A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry proposed a groundbreaking approach to administering TMS, potentially enhancing its effectiveness and condensing the treatment duration to just five days.

What is the Concept Behind Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

Certain regions within the brain are recognized as playing a role in depression and other mood-related disorders. TMS employs potent electromagnets to safely activate these specific brain areas. Placed on the frontal part of the head, a device emits short electromagnetic pulses that penetrate the skull, stimulating nerve cells in the targeted region. Over time, this technique enhances the activity of that brain segment, subsequently influencing broader brain networks responsible for mood regulation.

What is the Efficacy of Conventional TMS for Treating Depression?

Despite progress made since 2008, when the FDA initially approved a TMS device for depression treatment, not all individuals respond positively to TMS.

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