Treatment resistant depression (TRD) is a type of depression that does not respond to standard treatments such as antidepressant medications or psychotherapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, TRD is defined as the failure to achieve a satisfactory response to at least two different antidepressant treatments of adequate dose and duration in the current episode.
Treatment for Treatment Resistant Depression
- Medications: Although many patients with TRD have already tried several antidepressant medications, there are other medications that can be used in combination with or instead of standard antidepressants. These include atypical antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and ketamine.
- Psychotherapy: Several types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), can be effective in treating depression, including TRD.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): ECT involves the application of an electrical current to the brain, which causes a seizure. It is typically reserved for patients with severe depression or TRD who have not responded to other treatments. ECT is a safe and effective treatment option for many patients, but it does have some potential side effects, such as memory loss.
- Light therapy: Exposure to bright light has been shown to be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and can also be beneficial for some patients with TRD.
- Lifestyle changes: Simple lifestyle changes such as exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques (e.g., meditation or yoga) can also be helpful in reducing symptoms of depression.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive and safe brain stimulation technique that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of TRD. TMS uses a magnetic coil to deliver magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain that are involved in regulating mood.
It is important to note that the effectiveness of each of these treatments can vary depending on the individual and their specific symptoms. It is always best to work with a mental health professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your unique situation.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
During a TMS session, the patient sits in a comfortable chair and a magnetic coil is placed on their scalp. The coil delivers a series of magnetic pulses to the brain, which stimulates the neurons in the targeted area. This stimulation is thought to increase the activity of the neural circuits that regulate mood, which can alleviate symptoms of depression.
TMS is typically administered in daily sessions over the course of several weeks, and each session lasts about 20-40 minutes. The number of sessions required can vary depending on the severity of the depression and the individual’s response to treatment.
TMS has been shown to be an effective treatment for TRD in several clinical trials. In a meta-analysis of 29 randomized controlled trials, TMS was found to be significantly more effective than sham (placebo) treatment for reducing depressive symptoms in patients with TRD.
Although TMS is generally safe and well-tolerated, some patients may experience mild side effects such as scalp discomfort, headache, or dizziness. Serious side effects are rare but can include seizures, although the incidence of this is less than 0.1%.
In summary, TMS is an effective and safe treatment option for patients with TRD who have not responded to standard treatments. It is important to consult with a mental health professional to determine if TMS is a suitable treatment option for you.