February 4, 2013
SIU Psychiatrist Offers Next Steps for Depression Treatment
Depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 14 million American adults every year, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Women are almost twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, although depression in men may be under-reported. An estimated 1 in 10 U.S. adults report depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Psychotherapy and medication are the preferred methods of depression treatment. “About 15 percent of patients have treatment-resistant depression,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, assistant professor and psychiatrist at SIU School of Medicine. “The goal is to help people with serious, prolonged depression manage their depression to keep them out of the hospital and improve their ability to lead productive and satisfying lives,” Bennett said.
For those patients, some additional FDA-approved treatments are available.
1. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (TMS). This non-invasive treatment focuses on areas of the left, prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area associated with depression. Magnetic pulses produced by an electromagnetic coil programmed by computer are the same type and strength as from a magnetic resonance imaging scan. Patients receive a brief series of magnetic pulses in 30-second intervals. This signal stimulates brain neurons, which affects the “feel good” chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
“With TMS, patients are alert, and there are almost no side effects,” Bennett said. “It’s extremely easy to endure, something somebody could get for 40 minutes a day and be ready for the rest of their day without feeling side effects. There may be some headache or scalp irritation, but it’s minimal.” SIU has offered TMS since 2009, one of only about 100 treatment centers in the United States.
“TMS therapy brought me from darkness to light. It changed my life,” said Marie S., 63, who has suffered from chronic depression since she was 18. She underwent TMS therapy in 2012 and says the weight of depression has lifted. “I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t have the heaviness on my chest and shoulders. Things just seem better.”
Other options for chronic depression include:
2. Light Therapy. Exposure to full spectrum light provides significant relief for some people with depression that occurs seasonally. It requires daily treatment with a light.
3. Electroconvulsive Therapy. Also known as electroshock therapy, this is a safe and effective treatment with a high success rate for people suffering from various forms of depression.
4. Vagus Nerve Stimulation. Sometimes referred to as a “pacemaker for the brain,” this device stimulates a particular cranial nerve alerting the electrical activity in the brain to control depression symptoms that are resistant to treatment. This method of treatment has been shown to stimulate the area of the brain that affects mood but has also been shown effective in treating epilepsy.
For more information about these treatments, contact the SIU Department of Psychiatry at 217-545-8000.
Established in 1970, the mission of SIU School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community. Its website is www.siumed.edu and its main number is 217-545-8000.