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Published on December 04, 2013

Doctors office with chair

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A New Approach to Treat Depression

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in January 2013, one in ten adults in America suffers from depression. Depression can show its ugly face through lethargy, thoughts of suicide, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, or inability to focus. It can steal the life of its victim if it isn’t managed and treated successfully.

Depression treatment has been known to include medications, talk therapy and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). In 2008, the FDA cleared a new treatment approach to depression: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

Dr. Stanley of Avera TMS suggests that TMS is another tool in our toolbox. This tool, compared to the others, treats the brain as an electro-magnetic target. It is less invasive than ECT, and it is non-systemic compared to medication. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, let me explain:

  • TMS treats the brain as an electro-magnetic target. The brain is made of neurons that are regulated, in part, by neurotransmitters. In order for a person to be able to function well and live fully, these neurons have to be active. In the state of depression, this activity has slowed. One way the neurons ‘wake up’ again is through medication; another way is using electricity, as used in the magnet provided in TMS.
  • TMS is less invasive than ECT. Treatments such as ECT involve putting a patient to sleep and inducing a seizure. TMS simply requires a patient to sit comfortably in the chair, awake and alert during treatment, and it allows the patient to walk out to his or her regular activities after treatment.
  • TMS is non-systemic compared to medication. Medication, although it is meant to affect one part, actually moves throughout the body affecting all parts it touches. Many people have suffered through side effects of medication therapy only to recognize the pleasure may not be worth the pain. TMS targets the specific part of the brain affected by depression; no other systems are hindered in the process.

When a patient agrees to TMS, he or she comes in for 30 consecutive weekday treatments for six weeks. The treatments allow for a patient to be in and out of the office in 45 minutes. During the treatment, a staff person will educate the patient on health as a whole person: body, mind, and spirit. During the treatment, we connect the patient with resources outside, such as a counselor and/or psychiatrist so health is maintained following TMS. Avera TMS also offers a monthly support group to check up on patients and offer continued education following treatment.

TMS is a healthy and innovative tool to help people with depression. For more than a year, Avera TMS has helped people with depression move from a state of severe depression to a state of remission. In our fight against depression, TMS has become a very valued tool.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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