Millions of Americans suffer from clinical depression, in which they have persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. While many individuals are helped with traditional medications and therapies, nearly a third have treatment-resistant depression, which is depression that doesn’t improve despite months or years of treatment.
In recent years, researchers have made major strides in developing novel therapies for treatment-resistant depression, including ketamine therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
As a leading psychiatric practice in Beverly Hills, California, Bowman Medical Group offers both. In this blog, our providers explain what’s involved in these therapies and how they work.
Ketamine has been used for years as an anesthetic agent. However, researchers discovered that ketamine could also help people manage treatment-resistant depression.
Like antidepressant medications, ketamine works on modifying chemical processes in the brain. But while oral medicines focus on pathways that involve serotonin and norepinephrine, ketamine works on glutamate pathways.
Glutamate is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain, and it plays a major role in mood stabilization. By modifying how glutamate is produced and used in the brain, ketamine has a direct effect in processes that cause or contribute to depression and anxiety.
Initially, ketamine was only available through an IV infusion. But today, it’s also available as a nasal spray called Spravato®, and it’s approved by the FDA for adults with treatment-resistant depression. Treatment is self-administered in our office under direct supervision by our staff, followed by a period of monitoring before you’re discharged to go home.
Because ketamine has its roots in anesthesia, Spravato therapy may make you feel very tired. Some patients may also experience dissociation or mild hallucinations. These symptoms, however, are usually temporary, but because they can occur, you’ll need someone to drive you home after your therapy, and you’ll need to avoid driving for the remainder of the day.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy
TMS therapy uses strong magnetic pulses to stimulate neurons in key areas of the brain. The magnetic pulses are emitted by a device that rests against your scalp, and it uses the same type of technology as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
In addition to stimulating nerve activity, TMS therapy also helps increase the production, release, and distribution of neurotransmitter chemicals associated with mood regulation. The pulses also promote better circulation in the brain and help improve other chemical connections.
TMS sessions take about 20 minutes, and therapy is administered five days a week for 5-6 weeks, depending on your specific needs. Afterward, there’s no downtime, and you can continue with your regular activities.
TMS therapy is completely noninvasive, but you may have some mild scalp irritation from the device, along with mild headaches after the first few sessions. Headaches are temporary, and typically only occur while your brain adjusts to the therapy.
New options to treat depression
Ketamine and TMS therapy have helped many people suffering from treatment-resistant depression. If you’d like to see if either of these therapies could help you, our team can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps.
To learn more, call 310-933-3501 to book an appointment with Bowman Medical Group today.