What is depression?
Depression is a common disorder in which sadness, loss of energy, loss of interest and lack of joy in life become persistent symptoms, and you cannot “snap out of it.” You are not helped by friends and family trying to cheer you up or give you advice. Depression can be a chronic problem lasting many months or years. Medical treatment is often necessary. The main treatments for depression are antidepressants, psychotherapy and therapeutic magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Are there effective treatments for depression?
The standard treatments for depression have been psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medications. However, these treatments result in full recovery in only one third (1/3) of patients. Another third have only partial improvement and the last third have no improvement at all. Thus there is a great need for different kinds of treatment that will relieve patients of their depressive symptoms and allow them to recover.
What is TMS?
TMS is Therapeutic (Transcranial) Magnetic Stimulation. It is a safe and effective new treatment for depression. When antidepressants and/or psychotherapy have failed to help someone recover from depression, TMS is very effective.
Is TMS safe?
TMS is a very safe and gentle treatment. It uses the same technology as MRI machines used in hospitals to take pictures inside the body. There is no electrical shock, no radiation, and no anesthesia necessary. The patient is alert throughout the entire treatment and will have no memory loss or clouding of consciousness. As soon as the treatment is over, patients stand up immediately, walk to their car and drive to work, or wherever else they choose. There is no “down time” with TMS.
Isn’t this just like ECT or “shock treatments”?
No. There is no similarity between TMS and ECT. ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is an old treatment that uses electrical shocks to the brain to cause seizures. In TMS, there is no electrical shock. There is no radiation. There are no restraints. There is no anesthesia. The patient is alert during the entire procedure. There is no clouding of consciousness and no memory loss at all. When the treatment is done, there is no down time: the patient stands up immediately, goes to their car and drives to work or home.
Who administers this treatment?
Dr. Rao is directly involved in your treatment. He will personally evaluate you and walk with you through the process of getting TMS treatment going. His technical staff is trained and supervise by him; all TMS techs are also certified by Neuronetics, the manufacturer of the TMS device.
How will I know if I am a candidate for TMS treatment?
You will need to be evaluated personally by Dr. Rao who will determine what treatments have the highest likelihood of success in your case. If you have not been adequately treated with antidepressants and/or therapy, Dr. Rao might recommend starting with those treatments.
TMS patients in general are people who have had recurrent or chronic depression that has not fully responded to traditional treatments and has failed to remit–in other words, has not resulted in complete recovery from depression.
How well does this treatment work?
Under Dr. Rao’s care, over 60% of patients achieve full remission, or recovery, from their depression; another 30% of patients improve to a mild level of depression.
How long does the improvement last?
During 6 months of followup, all of Dr. Rao’s patients have retained their improvement from depression–in other words, no one relapsed or slipped back into depression. Furthermore, some patients continued to improve weeks and months after their TMS treatment was over. For example, one patient, who started therapy at a very severe level of depression improved to a mild level of depression. After her treatment was completed, she continued to improve, and 2 months later she was fully recovered.
For further information, see TMS: The New Treatment for Depression