Out of the Darkness: A Different Approach to Depression Treatment

By Chacon, Michelle | Addiction Professional, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

Out of the Darkness: A Different Approach to Depression Treatment


Chacon, Michelle, Addiction Professional


Depression (also called Major Depressive Disorder or MDD) is a common but severe mood disorder that affects approximately 14 million people in the United States. It is a pervasive disorder that not only involves those who suffer from the condition, but impacts families and communities, as well. Historically, depression has been overlooked, under-diagnosed and. sadly, under-treated. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a complex combination of factors.

Many of the factors that can lead to depression are also associated with substance use disorder. Imbalances in brain chemistry, family history and past trauma, for instance, are frequently involved in both depression and addiction. Substance abuse is all too common among people who are battling depression. Many depressed individuals, if not properly treated, reach for drugs and/or alcohol as a way to lift their mood. As a result, depression and substance abuse feed into each other, and one condition will often make the other worse. As depressive episodes become more severe, the frequency and intensity of negative thoughts and self-destructive behavior may increase. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry estimates that a third of adults who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse also have clinical depression. Depression is often an entry into substance use, and without qualified treatment, substance use can transition into full-blown addiction.

Without treating the depression that drives addiction, or vice versa, the individual is likely to return to substance use or experience a return of depressive symptoms. Sadly, conventional treatment centers that do not provide adequate therapeutic support for both mood and addiction may see limited success among participants. Research shows that persons with addiction and depression have poorer treatment adherence, higher relapse rates with either disorder, higher rehospitalization rates, and are at a higher risk for suicidal and homicidal behaviors.

TMS Therapy in Residential Treatment

Sierra Tucson, a residential treatment facility in Tucson, Arizona, has long been renowned for its integrative approach to mental health, including co-occurring disorders. Treatment for depression is provided through its Mood & Anxiety Program, the foundation of which is medication management and individual and group therapy, combined with innovative modalities such as biofeedback, mindfulness meditation and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). In this tradition of innovation and clinical excellence. Sierra Tucson has added NeuroStar TMS Therapy[R] to the Mood & Anxiety Program's comprehensive list of services.

TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, provides a different approach to treatment for depression. This safe, well-tolerated, non-invasive and non-pharmacological treatment is offered in physicians' offices across the country. While TMS is innovative, it isn't novel. It was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 for the treatment of MDD, and more than 25,000 patients have benefitted.

How TMS Works

TMS uses magnet technology similar to that of an MRI, but the therapy is precisely targeted toward the brain. For each treatment, a magnetic coil is placed gently against the scalp, whereby a pulsed magnetic field is generated, thus stimulating nerve cells in the brain that are involved with mood regulation. The procedure can normalize and restore balance in areas of abnormal or decreased activity, resulting in a significant reduction of symptoms or complete remission from depressionall without the systemic side effects caused by antidepressant medication. Each session takes less than an hour; treatment is administered five days a week for approximately 4-6 weeks, with no sedation or anesthesia needed.

What sets transcranial magnetic stimulation at Sierra Tucson apart from outpatient TMS Therapy is the therapeutic environment. …

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