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What Self-Help Measures Can I Take with MDD?

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Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a severe mental health condition. People with MDD struggle with dark thoughts. Depression saps your self-confidence and replaces it with disorder, doubt, dismay, and an overwhelming feeling of doom. If left untreated, major depressive disorder can ruin your personal and professional life and, at its worst, may end up taking your life.

MDD dismembers all positivity and replaces it with darkness. Given the severity of this mental health disorder, depression can be complicated to treat in terms of medication, therapy, surgical and nonsurgical options. It can also be costly, depending on the severity of the disorder. Therefore, if you are currently struggling with depression, it’s imperative to seek professional help. Licensed mental health counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists are strongly recommended.

Today, we will focus on several ways to help yourself through depressive episodes. We begin by discussing the differences between depression on the one hand and sadness, grief, or disappointment on the other. Next, we will focus our attention on your familial history of depression, environmental factors, and making an accurate diagnosis of depression. Note: if you suspect that you may be depressed, self-help should be used as an adjunct to professional help for depression.

The best major depressive disorder treatment depends on the individual. Therefore, each case is evaluated on its merits. Some patients respond favorably to medication and therapy, while others require medication, therapy, and surgical/nonsurgical treatment options. We will briefly discuss the increasingly popular choice of Deep TMS and how it differs from Traditinoal TMS. Both Deep TMS and Traditional (Figure-8 Coil) are forms of repetitive TMS (rTMS). However, only Deep TMS (Patented H-Coil) is FDA-cleared for treating depression.

What’s the Difference Between Depression and Sadness? 

Depression is not sadness. It’s not grief or disappointment either. These are all emotions that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Depression is an illness, a severe mental health disorder that can have far-reaching consequences if left untreated. 

People who are depressed often talk about feeling worthless, helpless, and hopeless. They experience fatigue and have difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions. They may also struggle with insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping. Appetite changes are common, as are weight gain or weight loss. 

Depressed people may feel irritable or restless. They may be plagued by aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t respond to treatment. They may also suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or thoughts of suicide. Major depressive disorder can also trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder. 

A diagnosis of MDD requires that a person experience five or more of the above symptoms for at least two weeks. The symptoms must also cause significant distress in the patient’s life and interfere with their ability to function normally. 

What Does Family History Have to Do With Depression? 

Your family history plays a role in your risk of developing MDD. For example, your risk increases if you have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling) with depression. This is especially true if the relative was diagnosed at a young age (under 25 years old). In addition, environmental factors such as abuse, neglect, poverty, trauma, and chronic stress can also increase your risk of developing MDD later in life. 

How Do I Know If I’m Depressed? 

If you are struggling with any of the symptoms listed above, it’s essential to see a mental health professional as soon as possible. They will ask you questions about your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them. In addition, a physical exam may be conducted to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms, such as thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies. Doctors may also order blood tests to check for other medical conditions. 

Once it has been determined that you are suffering from major depressive disorder, your mental health professional will work with you to develop a treatment plan. This may include medication, therapy (individual, group, or family), hospitalization (in severe cases), and nonsurgical brain stimulation treatments such as Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (Deep TMS). 

Is Medication the Only Treatment Option for Depression? 

No. While medication is often prescribed for people suffering from MDD, it is not the only treatment option available. Many people prefer not to take medication due to the potential side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, constipation/diarrhea, blurred vision, and dizziness/lightheadedness. In addition, some patients find that therapy alone helps them manage their depression effectively, while others require a combination of medication and treatment to achieve remission from their MDD symptoms. 

What Are Nonsurgical Brain Stimulation Treatments? 

There are two types of brain stimulation treatments available for people suffering from MDD: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). TMS is a nonsurgical brain stimulation treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain that are involved in mood regulation. 

ECT is a surgical brain stimulation treatment that involves applying electrical currents to the brain to induce seizures under anesthesia. ECT is generally reserved for patients who have not responded well to other treatment options such as medication and therapy. 

Deep TMS was cleared by the FDA in 2013 for the treatment of major depressive disorder and is an effective treatment option for patients who have not responded well to other treatments such as medication and therapy and those who are resistant to treatment. Deep TMS is typically administered multiple times per week for 4-6 weeks. 

Deep TMS’s most common side effect is scalp discomfort during the treatment session.  The discomfort goes away shortly after treatment. 

Deep TMS vs Traditional TMS: What’s the Difference? 

If you research TMS online or speak with someone who has undergone TMS treatment for depression, you may come across “Traditional TMS” and “Deep TMS.” So, what’s the difference between Traditional TMS and Deep TMS? All forms of TMS use magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, but there are some critical differences between these two types of TMS. One major difference is the use of a patented helmet that is used for Deep TMS. It is built with a unique H-Coil inside. 

Traditional TMS uses lower intensity magnetic fields than Deep TMS, which means that Traditional TMS only stimulates the brain’s surface while Deep TMS reaches deeper into the brain structures. Traditional TMS uses a Figure-8 Coil that is placed on the side of the head and is limited in treatment ability.  As a result, it’s far more efficacious to receive treatment with Deep TMS. In contrast, Deep TMS uses a patented H-Coil, which is much more effective at reaching deeper and treating problematic neural activity responsible for MDD.

The Bottom Line: Seek professional help if you are depressed. Never leave it and hope that it will pass on its own. Assistance is available – make that call.