By Teresa Poprawski, MD, QEEGD, Neuropsychiatrist, Chief Medical Officer, Relief Mental Health
We all experience sadness in our lives. It’s part of being human. We also use the words "depressed" or "depression" in casual speech. But for people diagnosed with clinical depression, the word is not casual at all. While people without a depression diagnosis usually bounce back after a short period of time – a couple of days or a week – people with clinical depression experience disruptive, depressive symptoms for two weeks or more, without interruption.
These symptoms can create problems across the board: work, school, relationships, and home life – depression can affect everything.
Traditional Treatments for Depression
Traditional, first-line treatments for depression include a combination of therapy, medication (if needed), and lifestyle changes. Therapy might mean weekly sessions with a counselor, social worker, or psychologist, using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and others. Medication might include antidepressants prescribed by a psychiatrist or psychiatric provider, such as a physician assistant or mental health nurse practitioner. And lifestyle changes often involve improving eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.
The Prevalence of Depression in the U.S.
The availability of effective treatments for depression is important for the millions of people in the U.S. with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). The latest reliable data, published in the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2022 NSDUH), shows the following prevalence rates of depression in the U.S.
2022: Depression Among Adults
Major Depressive Episode (MDE):
Adults (18+): 8.8 percent (5.0 million) total
10.4 percent (13.7 million) among females
7.0 percent (8.8 million) among males
MDE With Severe Impairment:
Adults (18+): 6.2 percent (15.8 million) total
7.3 percent (9.6 million) among females
5.0 percent (6.2 million) among males
The 2022 NSDUH also indicates that 64 percent of adults with MDE received treatment, with 67 percent of adults with severe impairment receiving some form of treatment for depression.
Unfortunately, traditional treatments for depression are not always effective. This is true for people with treatment-resistant depression (TRD): they may try everything to feel better – therapy, medication, lifestyle change – and still experience disruptive symptoms that impact their daily lives.
That’s where two new, innovative treatments for depression have changed the game: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and SPRAVATO®.
What is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008, is a non-invasive treatment designed to treat depression safely and effectively. TMS works by emitting gentle magnetic pulses to the area of the brain that regulates mood. These pulses activate specific areas of the brain to decrease symptoms of depression.
TMS does not require hospitalization and has no systemic side effects. Treatment sessions usually last about 20 minutes. Patients sit in a comfortable chair in an outpatient office setting. TMS does not require anesthesia. Patients remain awake during treatment, and since there’s no anesthesia involved and no side effects like drowsiness, they can drive themselves home after treatment. TMS treatment is covered by most insurance.
TMS has a high success rate for patients with treatment-resistant depression. In severe cases where standard therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes are ineffective, TMS can help patients manage their depressive symptoms and live a full and productive life. At Relief, we utilize cutting-edge BrainsWay Deep TMS™ technology—FDA-approved for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxious depression, and smoking cessation. Read about the effectiveness of Deep TMS for people with depression here.
What is SPRAVATO®?
SPRAVATO® is a medication containing the chemical esketamine, which was approved by the FDA in 2019 for the treatment of depression in adults. SPRAVATO® can help patients who’ve tried standard antidepressants without success. In most cases, patients seeking symptom relief for years – with standard treatments – finally find relief with SPRAVATO®.
Treatment with SPRAVATO® most often occurs in an outpatient office setting. Patients self-administer SPRAVATO® via a nasal spray under the supervision of licensed medical staff. Because the side effects of SPRAVATO® may include dizziness, drowsiness, and sedation, clinicians observe patients for a minimum of two hours after treatment, and patients need to arrange for a friend or family member to drive them to and from treatment sessions.
Most patients start with two sessions a week for a month, transition to one session a week for an additional month, and then attend sessions every other week. Research that led to FDA approval of SPRAVATO® (esketamine) shows its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of depression in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
Follow-up research published in 2021 confirms the initial results and confirms what many patients know already: when other treatments fail, treatment with SPRAVATO® can work.
Healing, Growing, and Reclaiming Your Life With Depression Treatment
In the 21st century, mental health professionals are hard at work creating new and effective treatments for mental health diagnoses such as depression and treatment-resistant depression.
The days when people with depression experienced stigma around both the diagnosis and treatment are fading quickly. We’re at the beginning of a new era when conversations around mental health are becoming normalized, treatment for mental health diagnoses is not stigmatized, and our culture is slowly coming around to this realization:
Asking for help is a sign of strength, rather than a sign of weakness.
TMS and SPRAVATO® are important components of this new movement in mental health and mental health treatment. They’re safe, effective, and offer symptom relief when other treatment approaches do not. That’s a major development for people with depression who haven’t had success with therapy and medication. They can rediscover the hope and optimism that are essential for long-term healing and growth in a comfortable, outpatient setting with personalized treatment designed to restore balance, happiness, and overall well-being.
Relief Mental Health is a leading outpatient provider of TMS, psychedelics (SPRAVATO® and ketamine infusions), psychiatric medication management, and therapy. Dedicated to delivering expedited care, Relief has 10 facilities in three states. In Illinois, clinics are located in Chicago (Lakeview and West Loop), Oak Brook, Orland Park, Northbrook, Rockford, and St. Charles. Visit www.reliefmh.com for more information.
About the Author:
Dr. Teresa Poprawski serves as Chief Medical Officer at Relief Mental Health. She is a board-certified neuropsychiatrist, quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) diplomat, and an accomplished, executive-level medical administrator.
Dr. Poprawski is passionate, caring, and dedicated to the study of brain sciences. She draws on her knowledge and experience to find the best solution for each of her patients. Dr. Poprawski’s compassionate and positive attitude is admired by her patients and peers alike.
Dr. Poprawski specializes in the treatment of depression, OCD, and other mental health conditions. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in conjunction with state-of-the-art diagnostics, psychedelic antidepressant therapy (SPRAVATO® esketamine nasal spray), and other collaborative interventions, Dr. Poprawski has a track record of outstanding results. She develops and applies a proprietary method of medication selection, and recognizes that TMS technology is highly effective in the treatment of psychiatric conditions, especially in cases where traditional methods have failed or proved an inadequate level of relief.
Learn more about Dr. Poprawski and Relief Mental Health at reliefmh.com
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