Procedures for Depression

Procedures for

Treatment Options - Procedures for Depression

There is a wide range of procedures you can undergo to treat your chronic depression. These are research-tested methods in addition to and alongside first-line depression treatment methods, such as medication and therapy. 

Two common procedures for depression include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an FDA-approved treatment for depression where a gentle electric current is sent through your brain, causing a surge of electrical activity. ECT can be beneficial in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder when other treatment options have been ineffective. Due to its relative safety compared to some medications, it is often a treatment that is safe to use for pregnant patients with severe depression or other mental health issues.

The gentle electrical stimulation during treatment is thought to reset some of the pathways in your brain that are causing severe psychiatric symptoms. ECT is done under anesthesia, so patients are comfortably asleep during the short procedure. 

How ECT Works

Patients with severe psychiatric illnesses are at high risk for suicide or suicide attempts, and the risk of death or serious injury is substantially higher than for the general population. According to research, patients who expressed suicidal intent saw a marked and rapid improvement of symptoms with ECT treatment. 

ECT may be recommended for use in cases where the patient has a history of severe, long-lasting depression, mania, psychosis, or a movement disorder called catatonia (a state of frozen shock or abnormal movements). 

Depression is linked to altered messaging between brain cells, which are carried out by chemicals called neurotransmitters.  For example, some neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, may be lower in patients with depression, causing limitations in essential functions such as concentration, motivation, and pleasure. 

The electrical stimulation received by the brain during ECT has anti-depressive effects that can help alleviate symptoms and bring about changes in these functions.

Learn More About ECT

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is an FDA-approved form of brain stimulation therapy for treating depression. TMS may also be used to treat conditions such as anxiety and Parkinson's disease.

During TMS, magnetic pulses are passed through the nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. It is a non-invasive procedure that may be recommended when other forms of treatment, such as antidepressants and psychotherapy (talk therapy), have shown no, or little benefit.

Different types of TMS exist based on how and where they deliver the magnetic pulses. An Options MD psychiatrist can consider if TMS is right for you and refer you to a specialist in TMS treatments who can help you choose the type that is best for you.

How TMS Helps

During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed near your forehead on your scalp. The device is used to deliver magnetic pulses to regions of your brain that are connected to mood control and depression.

When you have a depressive disorder, you are likely to have reduced activity in the brain's prefrontal cortex. This part supports your ability to make decisions, solve problems, maintain attention, and plan for the future. TMS works by activating the nerve cells in these regions to reduce depression symptoms.

TMS therapy is an outpatient procedure that can be carried out in a medical clinic and does not need an overnight stay. It is a painless procedure that takes between 20-40 minutes. It is usually recommended five days a week for about 4 to 6 weeks. Your response will determine the total number of treatments needed. 

TMS therapy is typically used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and treatment-resistant depression. Research is ongoing for other areas where TMS could be beneficial.

Learn More About TMS

Explore Procedures for Depression

Finding the proper treatment when you have major depressive disorder or treatment-resistant depression can be challenging. At Options MD, procedures for depression are just one of the 200 treatment options that our expert team will consider when putting together a custom plan for your treatment-resistant depression. 

Do you have questions?

Options MD is here to help. Text us to start treatment now. Join our Facebook community to connect with other individuals with treatment-resistant depression. 

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