What are the Options for Depression Treatment?

Depression, defined by the American Psychiatric Association as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is a mood disorder characterized by a substantial decrease in an individual’s quality of life on a number of levels. It is marked by feelings of emptiness, sadness, and a lack of hope or pleasure, in addition to thoughts and actions that significantly impair daily functioning. Thankfully, there are several depression treatment options currently available.

Depression affects roughly one in 15 adults, or 6.7% of this population. One in six people (16.6%) will reportedly experience depression at some point in their life. A number of treatment options have been shown to safely and effectively treat depression. These include Deep TMS, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology and ECT.

Deep TMS: Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS) is a safe, non-invasive treatment that utilizes a magnetic field to regulate neural activity in brain structures found to be associated with MDD. Deep TMS does not require any anesthesia and can be incorporated into an individual’s daily routine.

Extensive research has proven Deep TMS’s efficacy in alleviating symptoms of depression. As a result, it was granted FDA clearance status in 2013 for treating MDD.

As a non-invasive form of therapy, Deep TMS is safe to undergo as a standalone treatment or when combined with any form of medication. This was reaffirmed by 2019 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, which not only found dTMS to be a safe course of treatment, but that it resulted in significantly higher remission rates when combined with pharmacotherapy, when compared to pharmacotherapy alone.

Depression Treatment Options

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, refers to conversing with a mental health professional to better understand one’s experiences and resolve existing conflicts detrimental to their well-being. Several types of psychotherapy used to treat depression include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic Therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT).

Psychotherapy has been proven to alleviate symptoms of MDD, with many patients finding solace in sharing their own experiences while considering the different factors that may have contributed to their condition. There are many therapeutic approaches, schools of thought and training facilities, with some found to more effective in alleviating different mental health conditions or working through specific personal challenges. Another factor is the personal connection that develops between each patient and therapist, while a third factor is comprised of the technical aspects of the therapeutic setting, such as session costs and time availability. It is advised to take all these aspects into account when considering psychotherapy.

Medication: There are several classes of medication typically prescribed to treat depression. This line of treatment is found by many to be effective, though it should be noted that antidepressant medication may cause some side effects, and requires an adjustment period before an assessment of its efficacy can be drawn. Common classes of medication used to treat depression include: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac; Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Cymbalta; Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) such as Elavil; and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Nardil.

ECT: Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment that activates brief electric pulses used to stimulate the brain. Individuals undergoing ECT must be sedated for the duration of the treatment session, which involves inducing a seizure. Possible side effects include short-term memory loss.

Other treatment options for depression are being explored with varying levels of clinical evidence. Examples include intravenous ketamine or esketamine, magnetic seizure therapy (MST), transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Consult your doctor regarding your mental health status, a possible MDD diagnosis, and whether Deep TMS may be right for you.