“I was overconfident and ignored warning signs. I didn’t see it coming. I fell down hard and couldn’t get back up. At times, I felt like I couldn’t even breathe. The ground had vanished from under my feet, and I couldn’t get my world to straighten out again. I desperately needed to come up for air, to have a break, but I kept getting sucked back under and smacked over the head with yet another setback. I felt tied down and entangled in unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior but didn’t yet know how to free myself. And I was far from shore, far from safety, far from everyone I loved. I felt alone, and I felt afraid.” – A blogger who writes about her lifelong struggle with depression
Women are nearly twice as likely as men to experience depression, regardless of their ethnic or racial background. While this is sometimes attributed to hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy or menopause, studies have shown it can also be attributed to psychological stressors seen in a woman’s lifetime such as her role as a primary caregiver for her children and elderly parents. One recent study tied chronic sleep deprivation to increased depression among young women.
Although causes of depression may differ, a fundamental truth in treating the disorder remains the same: antidepressants oftentimes fall short.
Antidepressant medications are commonly used as the first-line treatment for depression. Yet, up to half of depressed patients will not respond to antidepressant treatment at all or suffer intolerable side effects, from nausea, insomnia and anxiety to weight gain and sexual dysfunction. These side effects are so severe that patients often abandon their medication regimens, leaving a significant gap in treatment.
Major technological advancements have been made in the field of depression treatment, giving hope to the one in five women who will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime and who may have already been disappointed with medications. While there are several alternative methods of treatment, many are invasive or come with high risks, including seizures or increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior. As a result, such treatments are often viewed as last resorts. A growing number of studies have shown that a new treatment Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS) can provide a safe and effective solution for patients who feel they’ve tried it all.
The device is ergonomically designed to comfortably fit the patient’s head beneath a cushioned helmet that emits magnetic fields. These magnetic fields noninvasively stimulate areas deep in the brain’s prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain’s reward system – to produce long-lasting neural changes that promote overall mood enhancement.
The treatment protocol requires 20-minute daily sessions over the course of four to six weeks, followed by twice a week treatments for three months. The therapy is usually offered in outpatient facilities and those who receive treatment are generally able to return home or revert to normal activities, without any lingering systemic side effects.
What is it about Deep TMS that allows it to ease depressive symptoms better than standard treatments?
The secret to the technology lies in Brainsway’s proprietary H-coil design, which focuses and better directs the magnetic waves to allow for deeper brain penetration. The coil structure effectively reaches the optimal stimulation targets for depression, which was confirmed in a multi-site clinical trial published in World Psychiatry. The key difference in Deep TMS treatment versus traditional treatments is that it is able to non-invasively penetrate into deep structures of the brain and cause stimulation. There is no medication that can guarantee the prefrontal cortex will fire neurons 1980 times in twenty minutes – stimulating the brain – but the H-coil will do just that. To date, the technology has been used in more than 60 clinical trials worldwide.
Up until the advent of Deep TMS, no external neurostimulation device has succeeded in reaching deep enough into the brain in the same manner. Deep brain structures have significantly more connections with the brain’s reward system, and it is crucial to target these areas for better treatment results. Non-invasive technologies, like Deep TMS, could hold the answer for millions of patients who are living with treatment-resistant depression and bring them hope for an improved quality of life.
As clinical depression continues to be one of the largest causes of disability among adults in the U.S. population, there is an overwhelming need for effective treatment. Deep TMS can be the solution for the many people who suffer from this disease.
One of my patients said it best when she said:
“Before I tried Deep TMS I was so ill I could not function well enough to take care of myself. My hope of ever being able to live a stable life, let alone a happy one, was gone. As I look back on those dark times, I can’t believe how far I have come. Deep TMS has played a major role in my recovery and now instead of just surviving each day, I am living each day.”
Brainsway’s Deep TMS treatment is cleared by the FDA for patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) who have failed to benefit from any number of prior antidepressant medications in the current episode.
Brainsway received this clearance after conducting a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial of patients at 20 sites around the world.
The most common side effects include pain, discomfort, headaches, twitching, insomnia and anxiety. Seizures have infrequently been reported with the use of TMS devices, but this risk is higher in patients who have consumed drugs and alcohol. Brainsway Deep TMS should not be used by patients with metal implants around the head area. Talk with your doctor for more safety information and to see whether Brainsway Deep TMS is right for you.