Depression affects an ever-increasing portion of the population. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. More than 17 million adults in the United States have experienced an occurrence of major depressive disorder (MDD) sometime in the last year. We expect these numbers to greatly increase, given the world we live in today in the midst of a pandemic. According to the Census Bureau, more than one-third of Americans have displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the coronavirus pandemic began. “There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will be the most psychologically toxic disaster in anyone’s lifetime,” says George Everly, who teaches disaster mental health and resilience at Johns Hopkins. “This pandemic is a disaster of uncertainty, and the greater the uncertainty surrounding a disaster, the greater the psychological casualties.”
While these are staggering statistics in and of themselves, even more troubling is the fact that only 20% of people diagnosed with depression receive modern care that is consistent with treatment guidelines, and 35% seek no treatment at all.
We’re going to look at why people reject typical treatment options and explore some alternatives that don’t involve antidepressant medications.
Why People Refuse Depression Medications
Antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa, serve as the first line in depression treatment. There are generally two types of medications that are prescribed to address depressive symptoms:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). It works primarily on the neurotransmitter Serotonin so that the levels of the body and brain don’t drop too low.
- Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SSNRI). It inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the central nervous system.
Brain chemistry is one of the primary factors that influences long-term, chronic depression. Antidepressant medications help to alter the patient’s brain chemistry, alleviating depressive symptoms in the process. But not everyone who suffers from depression is willing to take these medications due to the systemic side effects, e.g. weight gain, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, joint and muscle pain, etc.
For some folks, it is simply a matter of lifestyle and choice. Whether it is for spiritual reasons or due to a desire to live a more holistic life, many people simply choose not to take antidepressant medication.
Antidepressants, when taken under consultation with a physician, provide an effective treatment for many people who suffer from depression. However, since a medication regimen is not for everyone, it’s good to know that there are other treatment options available.
What Are the Alternatives?
It’s important to note that while antidepressant medications are an effective course of treatment for some, there are many other perfectly viable options available.
Minor lifestyle changes can help alleviate depression symptoms. For instance, regular exercise can have a positive effect on a person’s mental health. Not only does exercise offer holistic health benefits, it also increases a persons’ oxygen intake and it can increase the amount of vitamin D that they receive via sunshine.
Diet is equally important. A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can encourage positive mental health. Adding in a regimen of dietary supplements, such as omega-3 acids and probiotic agents, can help the brain produce serotonin, which is essential for maintaining positive mental balance. It’s also important to limit your consumption of alcohol (a depressant) and caffeine (a stimulant), both of which can exacerbate depressive symptoms.
Establishing a good sleep cycle is critical to good mental health. So are finding positive ways to manage stress and cultivating your social life. If you need any help with nonmedicinal strategies, speaking with a licensed therapist may be a good option for you to explore as well.
Making an effort to lead a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle can offer a good counterpoint to antidepressant use, but there is another noninvasive method with no systemic side effects that has given lasting relief to thousands who suffer from depression: TMS therapy.
What Is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a simple, noninvasive procedure that can be done right in the doctor’s office. It is not a medication, nor is it a form of electroconvulsive therapy. TMS uses a magnetic field administered via a coil positioned over the patient’s head where the prefrontal cortex is located. The magnetic field generated by TMS is formulated to penetrate no deeper than the prefrontal cortex, triggering the release of beneficial neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Treatment is simple and efficient. At the beginning of the TMS therapy cycle, the patient participates in five sessions per week. A treatment session lasts 18 minutes. After initial treatment is complete, patients generally need nothing more than a typical checkup with their doctor. With TMS, sedation is not required and there are no side effects; the patient is able to function, drive, go back to work immediately following a session.
If you’ve been searching for a new treatment method for your depression, TMS can help you find new life. We have had amazing success stories with our patients! Many have been able to get off of their antidepressant medication and have been in remission from major depression for years. To learn more about how TMS works, or to schedule an appointment, contact Prime Behavioral Health today. Located in Southlake, we have helped many patients throughout the DFW area experience relief from their depression, and we can help you determine if TMS therapy is a good option for you.