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Pandemic Depression and TMS Treatment

There is no doubt about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the mental health of many individuals throughout the world. This time will forever make an impact on the way we all live and interact. However, this time has sparked scientists to focus on new therapies that will help patients struggling during these unprecedented times. 

These studies could change the entire outlook of an individual and could possibly replace ECT, which is an invasive therapy that sends electrical currents directly to the brain. The pandemic made even more dangerous to administer and is typically used as the last resort for those who haven't been respond to medications and/or therapy. During ECT therapy, the potential to generate aerosols is of most concern since patients are putting the psychiatrist, anesthetist, and and assistants at risk for contracting COVID. 

Fortunately, transcranial magnetic stimulation is approved by the FDA to treat severe depression. This treatment is a noninvasive where an electromagnetic coil delivers magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain and is delivered once a day for about a month and a half. In recent years, scientists have been trying to improve the treatment by delivering the pulses at higher volumes and faster timelines. One result is intermittent theta burst (iTBS) which is a more efficient session that shortens the duration of the treatment without sacrificing the effectiveness. 

This is beneficial not only during a pandemic but after we return back to normal times as well. Delivering shorter and faster treatments allows more patients to be seen as compared to the long wait times and inaccessibility of ECT. A lot more people can be treated with TMS as compared to ECT due to its complex logistics, specialized staff, and use of anesthesia. In the US, only 1.5% of the people that meet the criteria ECT actually get it while the rest of the 98.5%  don't receive it mainly because hospitals don't have ECT. 

An alternative to ECT is crucial despite the effectiveness of treatment for severe depression. TMS could be that alternative since it's more accessible and doesn't require the extra tools and staff for administration. Treatment for severe depression using TMS can change the outlook and lifestyle of many individuals. And current studies are currently being done to measure the treatment's true ability as an alternative to ECT in some patients. 

If you would like more information about TMS or would like to start TMS, give us a call for more information.  Click here for more on the studies being done and for more information about the article. 

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