Hundreds of studies have been conducted over the last 25 years on depression and recovery. Depression, not to be confused with sadness, is a condition that is lasting and almost paralyzing to those afflicted. The National Institute of Mental Health website notes that sadness is something everyone experiences as a normal emotion that passes with time. Depression, on the other hand, is an illness that you cannot simply “snap out of.” It is persistent and can interfere with daily life. Medical research shows that clinical depression is a much more serious issue that widely vary in severity and type from person to person. Additionally, studies show that mental health problems are very common. For example, in 2014 one in 25 Americans were living with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or major depression.
There are two main types of clinical depression.
● Major Depression, also known as unipolar depression or major depressive disorder.
● The depressive phase of Bipolar Disorder.
Major Depression is characterized by symptoms such as:
● feelings of sadness or emptiness
● loss of interest
● sleeplessness or changes in sleep cycles
● sudden weight changes or changes in appetite
● lack of energy and tiredness
● feelings of worthlessness or guilt
● difficulty concentrating or making decisions
● suicidal thoughts
Symptoms of the Depressive Phase of Bipolar Disorder can resemble those of Major Depression. Bipolar disorder has two alternating phases for those who suffer from the illness. Bouts of great depression widely contrast with manic phases. The symptoms during the depressive phase can be similar to those of major depression. The symptoms are at the opposite end of the spectrum for the highly-elevated moods of mania. They can include:
● racing thoughts
● increased energy
● impulsive behavior
● poor judgement
The first step for someone who has these symptoms is recognition, followed closely by seeking help. Knowing how to treat depression is not as easy as taking a prescription and feeling better. Largely, it is trial and error process. One person’s remedy can make another person feel worse due to the complexity of the human brain and the wide spectrum of diagnosable clinical depression. Clinical depression can have varying degrees of severity in which the causes are not completely known. Some studies have shown that it may be a genetic condition in which neurotransmitters do not work properly, sometimes exacerbated by environmental conditions.
Clinical depression is treatable. Treatment and recovery are often an ongoing process. Common effective treatment plans include one or both of the following: antidepressant drugs and psychiatry / psychotherapy.
However, roughly 40% of patients diagnosed with clinical depression do not respond to medications according to a key clinical study. Treatment-Resistant Depression patients must find other methods of treatment.
Neuromodulation treatments such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is an outpatient, non-invasive FDA-approved therapy option that has been found to be highly effective for patients with drug-resistant clinical depression. Magnetic fields are used to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain. The FDA approved the use of TMS to treat depression in 2008 as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and for those not responsive to drugs or talk therapy. TMS is still being studied for other psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder. It has only very recently been approved for the treatment of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) in Sept of 2018. During a TMS treatment session, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the surface of the scalp. Magnetic pulses stimulate pathways in the brain that control mood and depression.
While the reasons behind why this treatment is effective is not completely understood yet, people with depressive disorders may have decreased activity in these areas of the brain. By stimulating these key targeted areas in the brain of someone with depression, the depression symptoms can improve. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been championed by psychiatrist Dr. Richard Bermudes, who founded the Northern California -based TMS Health Solutions in 2007. He cares for patients as the practice’s Chief Medical Director. Dr. Bermudes is also a founding member of the Clinical TMS Society and currently serves on the Board of Directors. He co-wrote and co-edited the book “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Clinical Applications for Psychiatric Practice,” in which he argues that TMS can be used not only to treat major depression, but also other mental illnesses such as Adolescent Depression, PTSD and mild dementia.
The main focus at TMS Health Solutions is their patients and applying the best treatments for each individual using the most cutting edge treatments in mental illness. With eight clinics throughout San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Roseville, they are planning to expand to another 25 locations over the next few years. The clinics are designed by architects to provide treatment spaces that are relaxed and modern.