TMS is an alternative treatment for drug-resistant depression

TMS is an alternative treatment for drug-resistant depression

For those with severe depression, medications don’t always work. Doctors used to resort to electroconvulsive therapy, but now there’s a more gentle option.

KING 5 Healthlink 6:38 p.m. PST November 3, 2014

TMS Depression Treatment

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non invasive treatment for drug resistant depression. (Photo: KING)

For those with severe depression, medications don’t always work. Doctors used to resort to electroconvulsive therapy, but now there’s a more gentle option.

Claudia Robertson is about to marry David. Before they exchange vows, she’s coming for a treatment that’s helped with her depression called TMS.

“TMS is transcranial magnetic stimulation,” said Dr. Linda Carpenter, a mood disorder specialist.

TMS is non invasive, but it’s not a first line treatment.

“They have to have failed at least four antidepressant trials. The average number is about ten,” Dr. Carpenter said. “People have had decades of illness by the time they come here for TMS.”

That was the case with Robertson. Diagnosed 24 years ago, she failed to benefit from a number of antidepressants.

She finally found the right combination, but it stopped working after a few years.

“I just got so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t do anything,” said Robertson.

TMS uses magnetic energy pulses to penetrate the skull and reach nerve cells.

“And nerve cells act like electrical circuits and the pulsing of magnetic energy induces a current. So you’re actually turning on, stimulating nerves to turn on,” Dr. Carpenter said. “The effect of TMS pulsing this energy sort of trains and encourages the brain’s oscillatory rhythms to become more flexible and adaptive and that restores a regulatory state.”

For the first six weeks, patients come five days a week for about forty minutes. Then the treatments are tapered. The effects are not immediate.

“Around about week four or five people start to gradually notice things and they notice they’re improving,” said Dr. Carpenter. “Then sometimes really robust changes are still happening in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth week.”

Robertson calls it a godsend.

“A reason to get up in the morning, a reason to breathe everyday,” Robertson said.

TMS was pioneered at Harborview Medical Center. It’s only recommended for those with drug-resistant depression.

About vnstherapy

I'm a very, very long-time support person and health care and mental health advocate/activist for my spouse Joyce as well as to others. I'm also a retired business executive and former Board Member, President and facilitator of a local chapter of DBSA as well as a Florida State appointment as a Guardian Advocate. I do not endorse, promote or advertise for any therapy, product or company. I do share our personal experiences, my research and knowledge in the hope it might benefit someone or do I give advice as to what one should or shouldn't do. I extend my best wishes for wellness to one and all and all the good you’d wish for yourselves.
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