Friday, July 20 , 2018, 7:08 pm | Fair 71º


Denise Lin, M.D.: Noninvasive Treatment for Depression

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation proves effective for those with treatment-resistant depression

If you go to your doctor complaining of sadness, low energy, lack of motivation, poor concentration and a diminished ability to experience pleasure, you may well find yourself with a prescription for one of the many available antidepressant medications such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Lexapro (escitalopram) or Effexor (venlafaxine).

Along with talk therapy and some lifestyle changes, this is exactly the recommended approach for people suffering from depression, and if you are lucky, it may work. In a study known as the STAR-D, researchers followed 4,000 people with major depression for one year.

Only 28 percent of those people achieved complete relief of depression symptoms from their first antidepressant medication. After one year of monitored, sequential treatment with several antidepressants, one-third of those 4,000 people were still depressed. This underwhelming response rate to antidepressant medications disappointed some of us who have grown to rely on prescribing these medications, and it certainly inspired me to keep on the lookout for novel approaches to treating depression.

Another downside of medication is the potential for side effects such as weight gain, decreased ability to attain orgasm, sedation, insomnia headache, etc.

So I was very excited when the FDA approved Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for people who have treatment-resistant depression. It utilizes a powerful magnetic field, similar in strength to an MRI, pulsed at a rate of 10 times per second and focused on the left prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area known to be associated with mood regulation. It stimulates brain cells to release neurotransmitters, and it reinforces certain brain circuits that lead deep into the brain’s limbic system — which is another area associated with mood.

Many people with tough-to-treat depression experience significant relief with TMS, and it can be easier to tolerate and more effective than yet another round of a medication. TMS is a wonderful treatment option for people who experience side effects from antidepressant medications, or who are breast-feeding and don’t want to expose their infant to medication. However, it also can be used along with medication. There is no downtime and no sedation needed, so you can drive, work and go about your normal activities before and after each treatment.

Feel free to call my office to find out more, and to schedule a free informational consult. Advanced Psychiatric Care and TMS Center is the only provider of TMS in the Tri-Counties.

Denise Lin, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist who runs Advanced Psychiatric Care, her private practice at 123 W. Padre St., Suite A, in Santa Barbara. She can be reached at 805.845.2323, or click here.


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