Antidepressant Therapy vs. TMS Treatment for Depression

Antidepressant Therapy vs. TMS Treatment for Depression from NYC Psychiatric Associates in New York, NYTranscranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a brain stimulation therapy that can work as a standalone treatment or with antidepressant medication. Psychiatrists recommend brain stimulation for cases of depression that fail to respond to other types of treatment.

This article explores the similarities and differences between antidepressant therapy and TMS treatment. Read on to learn about each treatment option's uses, benefits, and effectiveness.

Brain stimulation with TMS therapy

The use of brain stimulation to treat mental disorders goes as far back as the use of electro-shock therapy. This type of intervention modulates brain activity in one or more of the following ways:

  • Increase neural activity in specific regions of the brain
  • Stimulate the creation of new neural paths to improve aspects of brain function
  • Inhibit non-beneficial neural activity in regions of the brain that trigger fear, anxiety, and other exaggerated responses
  • Stimulate the production of beneficial neurotransmitters

These kinds of neural modulation go a long way toward lessening the debilitating symptoms of depression. The measures give a psychiatrist room to treat the root causes of their patient’s depressive disorder.

It bears mentioning that TMS therapy works best when psychiatrists tailor it to their patients’ unique needs. A psychiatrist who is good at their job will use brain mapping to craft a TMS regimen that is accurate enough to produce reliable, predictable results.

How antidepressant therapy works

Antidepressants work by improving an individual’s brain chemistry. This balances the different neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotional response.

While TMS uses magnetic energy to modulate brain activity, antidepressant therapy introduces select chemical compounds to do the same. Antidepressant medication falls into several categories.

1. Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

This type of medication treats severe depression with a two-pronged approach. For starters, it prevents the reabsorption of serotonin into the nerve cells that produce it.

This leaves the beneficial neurotransmitter in circulation, where it continues to transmit impulses between nerve endings. As serotonin levels increase, the symptoms of depression decrease. In the same vein, SNRIs also inhibit the reabsorption of noradrenaline, with similar benefits to a chemical balance in the brain. SNRIs require a few weeks to take effect, but patients should seek help if severe symptoms persist after six weeks.

2. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOIs)

This drug inhibits enzymes that break down serotonin, which leads to an increase in serotonin levels. Psychiatrists only prescribe this drug when other antidepressants fail, due to its side effects and adverse interactions with many other kinds of medication.

3. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Like MOIs, tricyclic antidepressants rank lower than SNRIs regarding doctor and patient preference. Mental health practitioners will recommend SNRIs before they recommend this older-generation antidepressant. It comes down to the sheer number of side effects of TCAs.

Antidepressant therapy vs. TMS: Side effects

All antidepressant therapies come with the risk of mild, moderate, and severe side effects. Different individuals will react to different drugs in different ways. This is where TMS outperforms medication.

TMS does not introduce chemical compounds into the patient’s system. This eliminates the likelihood of adverse reactions to medication. Better still, TMS therapy has few side effects, and these negative sensations are both fleeting and mild.

Check out what others are saying about our TMS services on Yelp: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in New York, NY

Alternative mental healthcare is within reach

Our practice creates treatments that improve our patients’ mental health with as few downsides as possible. Schedule a consultation to find out if TMS, antidepressants, or a combination of both will work for you.

Request an appointment or call NYC Psychiatric Associates at 917-391-0076 for an appointment in our New York office.

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