What Type of Depression Does TMS Treat?

by | May 10, 2023

Depression is a complex and multifaceted mental health condition. It is usually characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in things you once enjoyed. There are many different types of depression that can affect individuals, including you, in different ways. 

For some, traditional treatments like medication and therapy may not effectively treat their depression. In recent years, a new treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has emerged as an alternative treatment for depression. But what type of depression does TMS treat? 

This blog post will explore the different types of depression that TMS effectively treats, including major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, postpartum depression, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder.

I will also delve into how TMS works to alleviate symptoms of depression and what you can expect during TMS therapy sessions. So, if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, read on to learn more about how TMS therapy might be able to help.

Types of Depression

Before we dive into whether TMS works for depression, let’s start by looking at the different types of depression. There are several types, including major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, postpartum depression, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder. 

1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition affecting millions worldwide. Many people suffering from MDD simply refer to it as “depression.”

It’s important to understand that MDD isn’t just about feeling sad or down for a little while. It’s a serious, debilitating illness that can impact every aspect of your life, including your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You might feel fine on some days; on other days, you may have a difficult time getting out of bed. 

If you feel persistently sad, hopeless, and disinterested in activities you once enjoyed, you might have MDD. To be diagnosed, your symptoms must persist for at least two weeks. In addition to the symptoms I’ve already mentioned, you may also experience: 

  • Significant weight changes
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Now, I want you to know that everyone experiences depression differently. You could have MDD without experiencing all these symptoms. But if you experience several of these symptoms lasting for weeks, seeking help from a mental health professional is essential. You don’t have to always feel that way! 

The causes of MDD are complex, and unfortunately, we don’t fully understand them. However, we believe genetics, environmental factors, and biological factors contribute to developing MDD. Risk factors include a family history of depression, a traumatic or significant life change, chronic stress or illness, and substance abuse.

To be diagnosed with MDD, you must undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. This might include a physical exam, psychological evaluation, and lab tests to rule out other medical conditions that could mimic depression.

2. Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD)

Treatment-resistant depression doesn’t respond to traditional treatments like antidepressants and psychotherapy. TRD symptoms are very similar to MDD symptoms. You very well may feel sad and hopeless and have a lack of interest in things you once enjoyed.

However, your symptoms may be more severe since antidepressants and psychotherapy typically ease depression symptoms, and you don’t get that relief. More severe depression can equate to difficulty functioning in your daily life.

Four primary factors contribute to major depressive disorder becoming treatment-resistant depression:

  • Genetics: You may have a genetic predisposition for TRD, making you less responsive to traditional treatments. 
  • Medical conditions: If you have a thyroid disorder or chronic pain, your depression might be more challenging to treat.
  • Substance abuse: Substance abuse can interfere with how effective your antidepressant is, making it harder for you to feel better.
  • Treatment noncompliance: If you don’t take your medication as prescribed or miss therapy appointments, your depression will likely be harder to manage. 

3. Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Postpartum depression affects some women after giving birth, usually surfacing within the first few weeks or months. While it’s relatively mild for some women, it can be a difficult, overwhelming experience for other women. 

Do you think you have postpartum depression? Symptoms include sadness, irritability, anxiety, and changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels. You may also struggle to bond with your baby, feel guilty or worthless, or have thoughts of self-harm or harming your baby. Please note that if you have thoughts of harm, seeking medical care is crucial.
Several factors can cause you to develop PPD after giving birth. Hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and a history of depression or anxiety are some of the most significant factors. Complications, like preterm labor or a traumatic birth experience, can also cause PPD.

4. Bipolar Depression (BPD)

Bipolar depression is a type of depression you may experience if you have bipolar disorder, a separate medical condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. 

If you have bipolar disorder, you’ll experience periods of mania or hypomania, characterized by elevated or irritable mood, increased energy, and impulsive behavior. And then there are the bouts of depression. 

Depressive bipolar disorder episodes very much mimic the symptoms of major depressive disorder with persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities. You might also experience the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar depression differs from major depressive disorder in that episodes of mania or hypomania accompany it. These episodes can be dangerous, leading to impulsive behavior, risk-taking, and even psychosis. 

5. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder usually occurs seasonally, most often in the fall and winter months when there’s less natural sunlight. SAD looks very much like depression, with persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in doing things.

SAD can also cause:

  • Increased appetite, especially for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social withdrawal

We don’t know exactly what causes SAD, but we believe it’s related to changes in the body’s circadian rhythm, which regulate sleep and wake cycles. Certain hormones, like melatonin and serotonin, can also contribute to SAD.

Treatments for Depression

Treatment for depression often involves a combination of antidepressant medication and therapy. If you have bipolar depression, you’ll most likely be treated with mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Both can effectively manage symptoms for many people but don’t work for everyone. So, don’t feel alone if antidepressants haven’t worked for you. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (PT) are two types of therapy that are particularly effective for major depressive disorder. These, and other types of therapy, work well for many people. But, again, therapy doesn’t work for everyone, so don’t feel like you’re all alone if therapy doesn’t work for you. 

Self-care is another important component of treating depression, especially postpartum depression. Self-care can look like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. It’s also important to prioritize time for yourself, whether that looks like taking a relaxing bath or reading a book. 

But these aren’t the only treatment options for depression. There’s also TMS therapy.

Does TMS Work for Depression?

TMS therapy, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, is a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the nerve cells in your brain with magnetic pulses that can help improve depression symptoms. TMS targets specific areas of your brain, like the prefrontal cortex, that are known to be involved in depression. 

During a TMS therapy session, you’ll sit in a comfy chair while a technician places the magnetic coils against your scalp. Those coils emit the pulses that pass through your scalp and skull into your brain, where they stimulate nerve cells in the targeted area. This stimulation can help improve your mood, alleviate your depression, and regulate your emotions.

TMS therapy is usually administered daily for four to six weeks, but your exact treatment depends on your needs. It’s common to see a significant improvement in mood and depression symptoms after just a few sessions. 

Try TMS Therapy With Brain Health Center 

Depression can be a debilitating condition that affects all aspects of your life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. TMS therapy is an effective treatment for certain types of depression, including those resistant to traditional therapies. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and traditional treatments haven’t worked, TMS therapy may be the answer you’ve been searching for. 

At Brain Health Center, we offer TMS therapy sessions tailored to your unique needs and designed to help you achieve lasting relief from depression. Don’t suffer in silence; reach out to us today to learn more about how TMS therapy can help you on your journey toward mental wellness.