TMS Promising Treatment Option for Suicide Ideation and Behaviors
When major depression culminates in suicide ideation and/or behaviors there is an urgent need for a powerful intervention, something that traditional treatment protocols for depression do not provide. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) has demonstrated to have a positive treatment effect even after just one session, making it a desirable adjunct therapy to medication and psychotherapy in treating major depressive events, including suicidal behaviors.
A 2014 study conducted by the Ralph H. Johnson VA and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center included 41 study participants who had all attempted or desired to complete suicide. By using a higher than usual dosing of the TMS pulsing—9000 daily pulses versus the typical prescription dose of 3000 daily pulses—the clinical staff who facilitated the study witnessed a stunning result after just the first day of the trial.
The participants were divided up into two groups, one group receiving actual TMS treatment and one group receiving a sham treatment. Despite great lengths taken to create a sham treatment that closely mimicked the genuine TMS, the results were so striking it was clear to staff members who were not told which study group was receiving the TMS. According to Dr. Mark George, a physician at the Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center and director of the Brain Stimulation Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina; The staff didn’t even know at first,” relates George. “We thought we had fooled everybody. But on the first day there was such a large clinical effect with patients becoming rapidly un-suicidal that the staff figured out who was in what group” Dr. George sees TMS in higher doses as a viable acute treatment option for suicidal patients, noting that, “every 17 minutes a veteran attempts suicide.” George continues, “This gives us a quick, effective treatment for patients in crisis. The idea is that TMS might buy enough time to stabilize a patient and get them through a crisis.”
Signs of Suicidal Behavior
Recent statistics show that more people in the United States now die by suicide than in automobile accidents, with about 43,000 Americans choosing to end their lives. In addition to underlying mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders, co-occurring substance abuse disorders contribute to high rates of suicide.
In many instances—not all, of course—there may be signs that an individual is despondent enough to possibly attempt suicide. Becoming aware of the warning signs will provide loved ones with the opportunity to intervene before it is too late. These warning signs include:
– Expressions of hopelessness
– Talking about suicide
– Giving away possessions
– Substance abuse
– Threatening to commit suicide
– Seeking access to medications, guns or other means to self-harm
– Withdrawal from family and friends
– Recent losses, such as death of a loved one, a job, a relationship
If a loved one is exhibiting some or all of these behaviors, getting them in front of a mental health practitioner who can prescribe a treatment plan that includes dTMS could potentially save a life.
How dTMS Treats Major Depression
dTMS is a non-invasive treatment that works by administering rhythmic pulses through a magnet coil to the left prefrontal cortex, the region associated with mood. The magnetic pulses stimulate electrical currents that can alter the neural pathways of the prefrontal cortex to restore it to healthy functioning, alleviating depression. By rebalancing the brain chemistry, specifically the neuro-transmitters dopamine and serotonin, the brain’s “emotion” communication system where mental alertness, drive, emotions, coping abilities, and decision-making gets rebooted. The outpatient dTMS treatment program includes 4-6 weeks of sessions lasting approximately 20-40 minutes each, and causes only minimal discomfort.
Achieve TMS can Help
If you or a loved one is in a deep state of despair contact our compassionate staff to discuss treatment options. Achieve TMS now partners with many mental health providers and often insurance covers the treatment. Call us today with any questions you may have about dTMS at (877) 447-6503.