TMS and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Of all medical complications affecting women during pregnancy and after birth, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common. In California, one in five women suffers from depression, anxiety or both while pregnant or after giving birth. 

While postpartum depression is commonly known for occurring after birth, fifty percent of postpartum major depressive episodes actually begin prior to delivery. Substantial evidence suggests that mood and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy, as well as “baby blues,” increase the risk of postpartum major depressive episodes.

Can Depression Impact Your Pregnancy

Left untreated, perinatal depression can have serious consequences on the health of the mother, the baby and the entire family. Depressed, pregnant women are more likely to neglect prenatal care, abuse drugs and alcohol and have adverse neonatal outcomes, such as preterm birth, lower birth weight and a higher rate of neonatal care unit (NICU) admission. Postpartum depression may also negatively influence mother-infant bonding, child development, and child behavior.

It is essential to have safe and effective treatment options for peripartum depression. Psychotherapy is considered the primary recommended treatment. However, for patients with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, psychotherapy may not be sufficient, and medications may be indicated. Research reports 70–80% of pregnant women prefer not to take antidepressants.

However, there are safe and effective treatment options for pregnant and nursing women. Peripartum mental health providers should be prepared to discuss the spectrum of available options so patients and their families may make informed decisions for the best outcomes possible. Research supports rTMS as a safe and effective treatment for pregnant women with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Depression Symptoms During Pregnancy

Woman holding baby experiencing multiple thoughts with postpartum depression.

Emotional and mental health are critically important to enjoying a healthy pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby. Diagnosis and treatment of depression early is vital to the long-term health of both mother, baby and family. During pregnancy, early intervention and treatment for depression will also reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression.

Women and their partners should be aware of the signs of depression. These can include:

  • Profound sadness
  • Changes in appetite or sleep habits
  • Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
  • Heightened feelings of anxiety
  • Brain fog that makes it hard to focus

TMS and Pregnancy: Safe and Effective Treatment

One of the best things you can do as a mother is to take care of yourself, so that you can be there for your baby. You should talk to your doctor if you have any concerns and ask for a mental health screening at your next appointment to get started with a safe, effective treatment.

TMS is one of the most effective treatments for depression, with response rates that are consistently higher than those observed in clinical trials of antidepressants.

Standard treatment approaches of perinatal depression include talk therapy and medication. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an alternative option which lacks the systemic effects that are typically associated with medications, making it an ideal intervention for those who are pregnant or nursing.

TMS is an FDA indicated treatment for depression that is noninvasive and uses magnetic fields to gently nurture specific areas of the brain responsible for mood.

Unlike other forms of brain stimulation, TMS therapy is non-invasive and non-sedating. Patients can drive themselves to and from treatments and get back to their day right away, including work or school.

What’s Involved in TMS Therapy?

Depression is treatable, and it’s essential for expecting mothers to get help. If you’re concerned about the use of antidepressant medications while pregnant, it’s helpful to know that there are other alternatives available, such as TMS therapy.

TMS treats depression at the source.During TMS treatment, patients recline in a treatment chair and remain awake and alert. A TMS magnet is positioned over the patient’s head to deliver gentle pulses to specific areas of the brain that are underachieve in depression. Patients report that the pulses feel like taps on the head.

TMS is well tolerated. Sometimes patients experience mild scalp discomfort or mild headache during active treatment. Each treatment session lasts about 20 minutes, after which patients can immediately return back to their daily routines.

TMS Therapy in Los Angeles, CA

Because TMS is non-invasive, non-systemic and has fewer side effects than medications, many people including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding choose TMS over other treatment options. To learn more or to schedule your initial consultation, contact our expert care team today.

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