It is a mammoth understatement to say life is hard, even if it’s true. No one skips through it without some type of challenge, be it financial, physical, professional, personal, medical, mental or any combination thereof.
So it might not be surprising to learn that major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States, reports the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
What are the Statistics of Major Depressive Disorder?
The statistics surrounding major depressive disorder, according to the ADAA, breakdown as follows:
- The median age of onset is around 32 years old, though mental illness can develop in people of all ages
- Depression affects an estimated 6.7 percent of the U.S. population, roughly 15 million adults aged 18 and older
- It’s the leading cause of disability among people aged 15 to 44 years old
TMS Therapy, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a type of depression treatment that’s proven highly effective for individuals in which traditional forms of depression therapy, such as antidepressant medications, haven’t worked.
“We’re used to thinking of the brain as a chemical organ,” Dr. Andrew Leuchter of UCLA Health told CBS New York, “but it’s also an electrical organ.”
How does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work?
TMS Therapy uses electromagnetic coils that create a magnetic field on the prefrontal cortex, which stimulates nerve cells in the brain. These tiny electrical currents work deep within the brain, affecting neurons associated with mood and restoring their normal function.
The process of transcranial magnetic stimulation is popular not just because it works for medication-resistant depression, but for a number of other reasons listed here:
- The procedure is non-invasive, pain free and requires no anesthesia
- Sessions are generally under an hour, preformed five days a week for four to six weeks
- There are no side effects from TMS, either short or long term
- TMS Therapy is effective without drugs and research shows that as many as 68 percent of patients, even after a year, show no signs of remission
In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TMS Therapy for patients that have proven resistant to antidepressant medications. The electromagnetic stimulation is also effective in the treatment of anxiety, chronic pain and, as the latest data emerges, addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Addiction Treatment with TMS Therapy
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that a staggering number of the nation’s population – 12 percent – struggle with alcohol dependency or alcoholism. For illegal drugs, like heroin and opioid painkillers, the percentages hover around two to three percent.
One reason researchers think TMS Therapy might soon be a regular approach to addiction treatment is due to the magnetic pulse’s effect on the brain’s limbic system. The limbic system regulates cravings, which is one of the most difficult aspects of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
TMS Therapy could have an impact on addiction treatment in the following areas:
- Opiate addiction recovery
- Nicotine addiction
- Addiction to stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine
- Alcoholism and alcohol dependency
“What TMS is doing,” says UCLA Health Center Dr. Ian Cook, “is changing how the [brain’s] network functions, really rebooting the network…”
Because addiction changes the structure and function of the brain, rebooting the brain’s network in the affected areas might help speed recovery. TMS Therapy has shown great promise in treating depression and there’s hope that it will offer the same rewards for treating addiction.
This is good news for people with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder of addiction and mental health issue combined. Treating both issues at the same time provides the most successful outcome, and TMS Therapy might be the common thread for accomplishing that.
So, yes, as anyone of a certain age understands, life is hard, and most especially where depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol addiction are concerned. But more and more evidence continues to support that the chronic disease of addiction is a treatable illness and there’s hope for anyone suffering from these painful issues.