If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or you feel that your medication is causing unwanted side effects, you are not alone. Although antidepressants and talk therapy are treatment options for depression, over half of patients still experience symptoms after trying these conventional treatments. While medication and talk therapy can be very effective, if you haven’t responded to them, or if you want to supplement your treatment, you might consider alternative therapies. We’ve rounded up four alternative treatments for depression that are safe and highly effective for depression relief.
One of the safe and effective alternative treatments for depression is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate specific areas of the brain responsible for mood. Unlike other treatments, TMS is non-invasive (does not require surgery), non-systemic (does not affect the entire body) and it does not require electrode implantation or the use of anesthesia. TMS is covered by most insurance and it has fewer side effects than other treatments, and in some cases, no side effects at all.
Patients recline in a private treatment room and may relax, read, work, or watch television during TMS treatment. A TMS magnet is positioned over the patient’s head to deliver gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate areas of the brain underactive in those with depression. Each treatment sessions lasts about 30 minutes, after which patients can get back to their days right away, including work or school.
Since its FDA clearance in 2008 for depression and 2018 for OCD, TMS is also a promising treatment for a range of other mental health conditions. Notably, TMS is a safe and effective treatment option for cigarette cessation, anxiety and cognitive impairment and addiction relapse prevention.
Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy (MeRT) delivers personalized treatments for a wide variety of brain related disorders, including depression, and for optimizing cognitive performance. MeRT combines the technologies of TMS (FDA-cleared treatment) with qEEG and EKG to deliver customized treatment for each patient’s unique brain pattern. Like TMS, MeRT is non-invasive, non-systemic and has no drug-related side effects.
The MeRT treatment process begins by assessing the communication quality between neurons in the brain using EEG. Then, MeRT enables patients and their doctors to nurture where the brain has difficulty communicating by delivering highly personalized TMS treatment protocols. Using neuroscience and machine learning, MeRT visibly reshapes brainwave activity and strengthens functionality to improve health outcomes.
Because MeRT treats and optimizes each patient’s unique brainwaves, not their diagnosis, MeRT is a safe and highly effective therapy for a broad range of conditions affecting mental health and cognition including depression, autism, PTSD, TBI, dementia, ADHD, insomnia and more. Although MeRT uses FDA-cleared technology, it is a cash pay procedure at the present time.
Ketamine has been used safely as an FDA-approved anesthetic since the 1960s. However, the recent discovery of ketamine as a highly effective and rapid-acting treatment for a wide range of treatment-resistant mood disorders has been hailed as arguably the most significant development in psychiatry during the past few decades. Unlike medications which may take up to several weeks to exert their effects, one dose of ketamine has been shown to have a greater response rate within a matter of hours.
During IV ketamine treatment, patients recline in a treatment chair surrounded by a calm, quiet and experientially safe environment. The ketamine is delivered through an IV at a slow and controlled dose. A registered nurse accompanies each patient for the duration of the infusion.
Ketamine is well-tolerated. During a ketamine infusion, patients remain aware of their surroundings and experience a deep relaxation. Some patients may also experience dissociation, perceptual disturbances or nausea. Generally, any changes in perception or dissociation dissipate very quickly after the infusion.
Each ketamine infusion lasts about 40 minutes, after which patients should have someone available to accompany them home safely. Typically, patients receive 8-12 ketamine infusions over the course of 3-4 weeks. Most patients experience positive results from ketamine after their first infusion. Subsequent infusions help prolong the positive effects.
IV ketamine is not only used to treat treatment-resistant depression but is also an effective option for those struggling with treatment-resistant anxiety, acute suicidality, PTSD, and chronic pain. Although IV ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic, it is used off-label to treat mood and chronic pain disorders. At the present time, ketamine infusions for mood and chronic pain disorders are cash pay procedures.
Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a treatment for treatment resistant depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This procedure is administered by a team of medical professionals including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse or physician assistant. While under general anesthesia, electrodes are attached directly to the scalp and small electric currents pass through the brain which intentionally induce seizure.
ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can reduce symptoms of certain mental health conditions. Although ECT can provide rapid, significant improvements, ECT requires general anesthesia and is associated with a number of side effects including memory loss, confusion and physical side effects like muscle soreness.
At Neuro Wellness Spa, we understand that there’s more to depression treatment than medication and talk therapy. We are devoted to helping those struggling with depression experience symptom relief. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our alternative treatments for depression, contact our expert clinical team today.