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2 Alternative Treatments For Treatment-Resistant Depression

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Clinical depression is largely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. There are a number of chemicals in your brain that regulate mood, and if any of them get out of balance, they can cause mood disorders like depression or bipolar. While your brain chemistry is a large component of depression, situational and environmental issues can make it worse. For the majority of people who are dealing with depression, medication and therapy are enough to treat the patient and stabilize their mood. However, there is a small percentage of people who don't respond to the normal treatment of depression, or who respond to it only for a short time. There are other treatments that a person with treatment-resistant depression can try out. 


Electroconvulsive therapy has also been called shock treatment. Many people think about old horror stories about the treatment of mental patients when they hear about ECT, but these days, ECT is very safe and is done in a very controlled manner. When the person gets electroconvulsive therapy, they are first put under anesthetic. That way they don't feel any pain from the treatment. They will also be secured to the bed because the electrical shock will cause the patient's body to tense and relax. Then, electrodes are placed on the person's head, and the doctor administers the treatment. The length of treatment and the amount of electricity used depends on the patient and what their doctor recommends. ECT treatments come in rounds, and a round can be several sessions long. 


Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a newer treatment for difficult depression. It works similarly to ECT in that it stimulates a particular part of your brain, basically resetting it. Unlike ECT, TMS isn't painful, and people don't have to be knocked out to get the treatment. A helmet filled with a series of magnets is placed on the patient's head. The first treatment will map the person's brain so that the medical professionals administering the treatment will also find the right intensity level so that the next treatment will be perfect. TMS isn't available everywhere yet, and you may have to deal with your insurance company to get the treatments paid for. Generally, if your med provider documents that this could be a good treatment for you, your insurance company may relent. 

Dealing with depression can be very difficult. Having treatment-resistant depression just makes things many, many times worse. If you have treatment-resistant depression, talk to your primary care physician and a mental health provider—such as Advance Wellness Centre—about your treatment options.