Many people will experience severe depression over the course of their life. Sadly, many don’t seek treatment for depression because they don’t realize that they are sick. Other’s just don’t recognize the signs. This isn’t surprising, as some of the symptoms of depression are less obvious than others. The following is a list of the more common symptoms of clinical depression:
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
- Sleep disorders such as insomnia or oversleeping
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies
- Lack of sexual desire
- Eating disorders such as binge eating or anorexia
- Persistent aches, pains, and headaches that don’t respond to treatment
- Severe difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Memory loss
- Thoughts of suicide
Warning: Suicidal thoughts in yourself or others are a severe medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately.
Don’t Take Chances With Depression
It’s undeniable that depression is a serious medical condition and, as shown above, can have serious consequences including suicide if left untreated. In fact, 90% of the people who die from suicide suffered from clinical depression or another mental disorder.
What Are the Best Treatment Options
It is always advisable to use psychotherapy as the first line of treatment for depression before trying pharmaceutical treatment or other medical methods, but some cases of depression don’t respond to psychotherapy alone. In this article, I will describe two treatments, Electro Convulsive Therapy (ETC) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), that can prove beneficial when other types of therapy fail.
It’s a common misconception that ETC and TMS work the same, but they are quite different. In fact, the only thing that ECT and TMS have in common is that they both provide electrical stimulation to the brain.
What is Electroconvulsive Therapy
Electroconvulsive works by running electricity from one side of the brain to the other. Sometimes the electricity is run side-to-side, and other times it is run front to back. Either way, the result is the same – it creates a powerful grand mal seizure in the patient.
But Why Would Inducing a Seizure Improve Depression?
The discovery of ETC and its benefits for patients with clinical depression is one of the most fascinating stories in the history of psychology — dating back to the early 20th century. This revelation was made in part because when people became severely depressed, they failed to eat and suffered severe nutritional deficiencies. Eventually, these nutritional deficiencies led to the patient developing seizures. Oddly enough, once the seizures began, the patient’s mood often began to improve.
The doctors treating the patients began to speculate that perhaps the seizures were not a predicting factor of patient improvement, perhaps they were the cause of the improvement. This led them to seek out methods of inducing seizures in hopes that they could recreate the benefit without waiting for the patient to decline in health.
The Negative Side-Effects of ECT
ETC causes neurons to discharge across the entire brain, leading to unconsciousness. Once the patient wakes up, they will suffer a headache, confusion, and memory loss. This memory loss can be short term, or it can become more permanent, especially with repeated therapy. This risk must be weighed against the benefit for the patient.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Like ECT, TMS works by stimulating the brain, but the mechanism is entirely different. TMS involves creating a very powerful magnetic field in the brain for a fraction of a second. The magnetic field penetrates the brain more easily because the skull does not obstruct the field. Electricity, on the other hand, tends to travel more along the skull because it cannot penetrate as easily. So the TMS provides the stimulation with smaller amounts of energy in a more mild way while doing less damage.
After a successful course of TMS, roughly fifty percent of patients will recover, many of whom have not experienced relief from depression for several years. And this recovery can last for several months or even years to come. With ECT, many patients relapse in a matter of months.
TMS has been found to be safer and more comfortable than ECT. TMS does not require anesthetic and the benefits are more long-lasting than ECT with higher success rates for most types of depression. Best, TMS is that it does not require any time off or recovery period.
To learn more about the history of ECT treatment and the benefits of TMS, watch this short, informational video or call us today. (212) 362-9635