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TMS: Real help for major depression

Health and Wellness, Mind, General, In the News

We all feel a little down now and then. But depression is more than feeling blue.

In fact, this disease is characterized by negative feelings that are overwhelming and last for weeks. Depression also causes physical symptoms like fatigue, sleep disruptions and changes to appetite.

Depression is both common and damaging. It affects about 8% of adults in the United States and is a leading cause of disability here and around the world.

When depression resists treatment

Many patients with clinical depression find relief in a combination of medication, talk therapy and exercise. When these methods fail to improve your depression, you have treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

Fortunately, there’s a more recent development in the treatment of TRD. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a proven, innovative and effective tool to help patients in their fight against depression.

Because TMS has proven to help with major depression, it can be an important part of a treatment plan. “I would consider the strongest treatment plan for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) in particular is one that combines psychotherapy, medication, TMS and — not to be forgotten — a physical activity regimen,” says Dr. Y Pritham Raj, medical director of Adventist Health Portland’s Emotional Wellness Center.

How TMS works

TMS uses magnetic pulses similar to an MRI to increase the activity of nerve cells in the area of your brain thought to control mood. Because these pulses can improve neurotransmitter levels, long-term remission of depression is possible.

During the TMS session, you get to relax in a comfortable chair while a special headset rests on your head. As the magnet pulses, you feel a little tapping. You’re awake the whole time and can return to normal activities right away.

How to get help

When you’re struggling with overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness, it’s time to reach out to your primary care provider and find a good mental health therapist. Dr. Raj also recommends making a point to walk at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

When therapy, exercise, and medication haven’t helped return you to a normal state, it may be time to consider TMS for your treatment-resistant depression.

“Rather than ponder this option on your own, if you or a loved one is struggling with major depression and have not received full control of the symptoms with medication or talk therapy, please schedule an appointment at the Emotional Wellness Center to see if TMS may be right for you,” Dr. Raj suggests.

Hear Dr. Raj and one of his patients discuss TMS therapy on KATU’s AM Northwest. You can contact the Adventist Health Portland Emotional Wellness Center at 503-261-5953 or learn more here.

If at any time you begin to think about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or call 911.