Major Depression Disorder (MDD), is characterized by the persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or lack of interest in formerly-enjoyable activities as well as sleeping and eating too much or not enough.. Major depressive disorder is a unipolar condition as distinguished from bipolar depression which vacillates between states of depression and mania. In many cases, MDD can be treated through a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
However, not all patients show progress with these treatment options either independently or in combination. In fact a National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) 2006 study (STAR-D) shows that 51% of MDD patients do not respond to first line medication treatment and that impact with each subsequent med trial declines significantly.
Scope and Impact of Antidepressants
As a patient, some of your symptoms may match those synonymous with depression, but that does not guarantee that you suffer from MDD . Symptoms of depression may for example appear in patients experiencing bipolar or personality disorders. Anti depressants alone may not be productive in relieving depressive symptoms for these patients.
Also, depression may be caused by multiple causes including genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of both and treatment needs to be geared to addressing these underlying issues. .
Metabolism of Depression Medication
The response of individual patients to depression medication will be impacted by , the patient’s ability to absorb and metabolize the medication and resulting side effects. . Non genetic factors such as age, diet, alcohol and/or tobacco use, substance abuse, will also impact how medications are processed by the body.
Response will also likely change over time. When you do find medication that works for you, it may not have the same results indefinitely. Many antidepressants, such as Prozac for example, increase levels of serotonin — the body regulates these levels either through reducing their sensitivity or through the reduction of receptors in your synapses. Situational factors such as stress, substance abuse, physical activity and the body’s interaction with medication have a similar effect. With time, the dose taken may have to be increased to achieve the same result, which might not always work even when psychotherapy is conducted simultaneously.
TMS Treatment Option
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a viable alternative for mitigating the impact of MDD when a medication does not work, or if medication stops working over time. TMS uses magnetic H coils that stimulate the brain through magnetic pulses that open up new neural networks. . As compared to medications that have a wide range of long term side effects including reduced sex drive, faintness, digestive distress, anxiety and headaches, there are no long term side effects with TMS beyond a mild and transitory headache that some patients experience in first few sessions. This makes TMS a better alternative since it has no long term side effects and is highly effective with a 75% response and 50% remission rate after 6 weeks of treatment.