Severe depression is a significant public health problem. It affects over 350 million people globally. Major depression is often painful and disabling to the point where it disrupts an individual’s ability to work and enjoy life.
Current treatments for severe depression, such as antidepressant medications or psychotherapy can help. Yet, many do not effectively address the disorder.
In recent years, however, promising therapies have come to light. These treatments may reduce symptoms and make patients feel better. Many of the breakthrough therapies include restoring neural connections in the brain. With the therapies available, those who struggle can stay hopeful for recovery.
Below we discuss five breakthrough therapies that can help you manage severe depression.
1. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure. TMS involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate specific regions in the brain. This treatment has a good safety profile and has been used as a research tool to study brain function. Some experts believe this treatment can ‘reset’ the connections in certain parts of the brain. They also believe that it can “resynchronize” neural circuits that may have gotten disrupted. With TMS, patients often experience a mood improvement.
2. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure involving the implantation of a brain stimulator. The stimulator results in better control over some regions of the brain. Experts believe that stimulation of certain areas of the brain can help relieve symptoms of depression.
In this procedure, electrodes get placed in specific brain areas. And electrical impulses are sent through these channels to improve neural connections. With the impulses, depression decreases, making life more enjoyable.
Even if DBS works, however, specialists may recommend you take medication simultaneously. Sometimes a combination of treatments are the most successful at improving depression.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic used in clinical settings for decades for pain relief. Still, researchers recently discovered that ketamine could rapidly improve significant depression symptoms. The mechanism by which ketamine works is not well understood. Still, some researchers believe its antidepressant effects may be attributable to its impact on the glutamatergic system. The system plays a crucial role in creating neural circuits. Many believe that ketamine works quickly on severe depression, but the effects are not sustained.
4. Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
Vagal nerve stimulation is a biological therapy involving an implanted neurostimulator. It sends electrical pulses to specific areas in the brain. This procedure has been used for years in patients with epilepsy. Some experts believe it may help treat depression. How it reduces depression is by stimulation. It restores the proper balance between neurotransmitters in the brain.
5. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy is the most effective treatment for severe depression. It involves passing a brief electrical current through parts of the brain. The currents are used to increase neural connections and improve moods.
This therapy has been used in clinical settings for decades and has a good safety profile with few side effects. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are two forms.
Yoga helps people improve their physical and mental health. Experts have studied yoga and depression in clinical settings for years. Studies have shown that it effectively treats various physical, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Being present in the moment and focusing on your breathing are two ways that keep depression at bay.
For example, several studies have found that yoga is associated with lower rates of major depression and anxiety. Improvements in mood may be attributed to changes in breathing techniques. Plus, yoga improves your cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and muscle tone.
Patients with severe depression have not had good treatment options available to them. These new therapies may enable people to feel better and return to everyday life.
Besides the treatment options discussed, microdosing psychedelics may be an exciting alternative. It is effective in treating mood disorders but has a low risk for addiction and other adverse reactions. Veriheal discusses this form of treatment and how it may reduce depression.
In the future, these treatments and others should help patients with severe depression. If you’re unsure which treatment is best for you, consult with a mental health professional. One should never lose hope. Continue to find treatments that are effective so you can live a happy, fulfilling life!