TMS Health Solutions, of Sacramento, is leading the way in Northern California in providing innovative therapy for clinical depression (also called major depressive disorder). Clinical depression is believed to be caused by an imbalance among the brain’s neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are responsible for sending signals between brain cells. In depression, these neurotransmitters appear to send fewer signals, reducing brain activity, and causing feelings such as worthlessness, despair, and even the belief that suicide is necessary to escape the emotional pain.
The mission pursued by TMS Health Solutions is to find the right treatment plan for clinically depressed patients, using all of the options available. Traditional treatment options considered in designing a patient’s plan may include psychotherapy, antidepressant medication, and electroconvulsive therapy, which has been refined since the days it was a therapy to be feared. Nevertheless, electroconvulsive therapy still has significant side effects, including memory loss, and still takes place under anesthesia.
TMS Health Solutions has focused its efforts on clinically depressed patients who do not respond to traditional treatment options. Some 40% of clinically depressed patients may not be helped by psychotherapy or antidepressant medications, even in combination. These patients are diagnosed with depression that is treatment resistant. Other patients may not be successful in using antidepressants. They may be unable to find a medication that works effectively with their body chemistry, or may be unable to take antidepressants because of side effects. For some patients, antidepressant medication can actually increase their symptoms and exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
Patients whose depression does not respond to traditional treatments have a new weapon available through TMS Health Solutions. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an innovative therapy that offers many advantages. The process is simple and non-invasive, and side effects are uncommon.
Treatment is provided in the patient’s doctor’s office, while seated in a chair similar to a dentist’s patient chair. While the patient is awake, a coil is applied to the patient’s head for 30 to 60 minutes. The coil sends electromagnetic pulses targeted to stimulate areas of the brain believed to be underactive in clinically depressed patients. The patient may receive 30 to 36 treatments given over a period of four to six weeks, as determined by the patient’s doctor.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is safe and FDA-approved. The level of success achieved by this innovative treatment of depression is exciting. Nearly 60% of patients find that symptoms improve after treatment. Of these patients, approximately one-third attain full, long-term remission of depression symptoms. Up to 85% of patients continue to feel better even a year after treatment.
Side effects are remarkably absent. In trials, fewer than 5% of people discontinued the treatment due to temporary discomfort near the treatment site. This discomfort generally resolves within a week. There are no negative effects on sleep or memory from transcranial magnetic stimulation, and patients can return to their daily activities immediately after each treatment.
There are some patients for whom transcranial magnetic stimulation may not be appropriate. These include patients with non-removable conductive metal implants in or near their head, or stimulator implants. Patients with implants such as deep brain stimulators, vagus nerve stimulators, or cochlear implants (whether active or not) should not receive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
TMS Health Solutions is always on the lookout for affordable treatment options for its patients with clinical depression. Treatment by transcranial magnetic stimulation is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. It is proving to be twice as effective as antidepressant medications. One of its most important benefits is that it provides new hope for depressed patients who have found no relief from other treatments.