Understanding Depression: It's not as simple as you think!
Depression is a term everyone has heard of and many think they have a basic understanding of what it is like to feel depressed. For years if not decades depression was thought to be related to early childhood issues, such as trauma, abandonment, loss and the like. While these are all significant life issues, not everyone who experiences these very predictable life events becomes clinically depressed. What accounts for the vast difference in response rates? The answer to this question probably hides in your own genetic profile. Depression is not to be taken lightly or dismissed as just, “pull yourself up by your boot straps” and “snap out of it”. Depressed people cannot do that, as they are biochemically changed by their own genetic profile.
Depression is a chronic illness that takes a huge toll on America’s health. It affects more than 21 million children and adults annually and is the leading cause of disability in the US for people aged 15-44. Few are aware that the lost productivity due to depression is estimated to cost the US in excess of 31 billion annually. Depression frequently co-occurs with a variety of medical illnesses such as coronary heart disease, cancer, and chronic pain. Not surprisingly it is the principal cause of the 30,000 suicides in the US each year.
What are the symptoms of depression? The essential feature of depression is a period of depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. The individual may describe their feeling as, low, down in the dumps, discouraged, hopeless. The person may also just complain of feeling “blah”, having no feelings, or feeling anxious. In short it is just a miserable way to live and to feel.
Here is the good news. There are cutting edge treatments available that are going to change the way we look at a number of disorders. Traditional psychotherapy has a horrible track record with depression and so do the many antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Zoloft etc. The side effects for so many are intolerable with weight gain, dry mouth, loss of libido, sleepiness, and the list goes on; and these medications take from 4-6 weeks to find out if they work!
The new treatment approach for those with depression, chronic pain, and a host of emerging diagnostic categories is TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This is not fringe medicine or smoke and mirrors. This is the first real breakthrough in decades. This is an FDA approved procedure that uses an electro-magnet that produces a magnetic pulse that stimulates the neurons to release the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. This is exactly what the antidepressant medication attempts to do, with all of the side effects. This is not ECT or passing electricity through the brain that makes this so cutting edge. This medically supervised procedure is performed in an office with the patient completely awake and alert. It is safe enough to be performed on pregnant women and an excellent treatment for post partum depression due to the danger of traditional medications passing on to the baby via the breast milk.
TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is being used in most major university hospital centers in the US. TMS centers are in use currently at Harvard, Stanford, Weill Cornell, Yale, New York University, University of Michigan, to name but a few. Why are so many of these major hospitals and universities so interested in TMS? First, far fewer side effects, secondly, studies show that TMS works when drugs fail. TMS is being called the “Gold Standard” for treating severe depression. Initially insurance companies were reluctant to cover TMS but lately more and more are, as even insurance companies can see this as a win-win for them and the patients. Medications over the long run are very expensive and often don’t result in remission. Remission means cure, or feeling completely well. Most antidepressants are lucky if the response rate reaches 50%, meaning that with medications one may be able to feel somewhat better but not completely well. TMS is having high response rates with remission meaning completely well in upwards of 70% of cases. TMS requires daily treatment for about 37 minutes for 4-6 weeks; about the same time it takes for antidepressants to become effective. For more information about this cutting edge treatment for depression call our office to learn more at 925-648-4800.
For more information on any behavioral or developmental concern, call our office at (925) 648-4800 and we will take the time to answer your questions. To learn more about behavioral disorders, visit our website at www.behaviorquest.com our location is 4185 Blackhawk Plaza Circle Suite 210, Danville, CA