Psychiatry and medical science have made great strides in the fight against depression. New tech is used to reverse symptoms of depression. Let’s take a look at six cutting-edge technologies used in the treatment for depression. These include Deep Brain Stimulation, Deep TMS™, Vagus Nerve Stimulation, SSRIs, SNRIs, Tricyclic Medication, and AI software such as Alexa, Siri, and others.
Note that each of these methods is effective at providing relief from the ravages of depression. As we’re about to discover, depression is a crippling mental health disorder that makes it extremely difficult to live in normal life. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a bitter pill to swallow since it is typically not responsive to medication and often requires surgical or nonsurgical solutions.
Let’s get started!
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a treatment that involves implanting a device called a “brain pacemaker” into the brain. The device sends electrical signals to specific areas of the brain that are thought to be involved in mood control and other functions. DBS has been shown to be effective in treating some forms of depression that have not responded to other treatments.
Naturally, there are risks associated with DBS. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a 1% chance of stroke and brain hemorrhage. Other more common risks include:
- Device malfunctions.
- Risk of infection.
- Minimal benefit for specific systems.
- A worsening of emotional and mental status.
When effectively administered, DBS is a powerful surgical solution for treating depression.
- Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS™)is a noninvasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. TMS is thought to work by changing the activity of specific brain regions involved in mood control.
Deep TMS™ is different from Traditional TMS, which uses a Figure-8 Coil design. Deep TMS™ uses a patented H-Coil helmet which transmits magnetic fields deeper into the patient’s brain to target problematic areas of neural activity accurately. The advantage of the H-Coil over Figure-8 designs is it is less prone to errors and it stimulates deeper regions of the brain. This is a nonsurgical procedure, with no incisions, no anesthesia, and no lasting side effects whatsoever.
According to one detailed study by BrainsWay, who patented Deep TMS™, of the 1000 participants in a sample study undergoing Deep TMS™ treatment for MDD, 75% achieved a clinical response, with 1 of 2 achieving remission [Source: https://www.brainsway.com/patients-faqs/what-evidence-exists-for-deep-tms-effectiveness/] The efficacy of Deep TMS™ has been proven over the years, particularly when patients undergo a full course of treatments over multiple weeks.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)is a treatment that involves surgically implanting a device that sends electrical signals to the Vagus nerve, which runs from the brainstem to the abdomen. The Vagus nerve is thought to be involved in mood regulation.
VNS has been shown to be effective in treating some forms of depression that have not responded to other treatments. As with other surgical treatments, Vagus nerve stimulation can result in headaches, hoarseness, voice changes, cough, difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, pricking of the skin, et cetera. The most commonly reported side effect is an infection, including vocal cord palsy and hematoma.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)are commonly used to treat depression. These medications increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels, two chemicals in the brain that are thought to be involved in mood regulation.
SSRIs and SNRIs are generally well tolerated, but they can cause side effects such as nausea, headache, and sexual dysfunction. SSRIs and SNRIs are typically considered the first line of defense against MDD. There are offered in tandem with therapy to fight depression. They are often used with more advanced technological treatments such as Deep TMS™ to achieve a lasting result.
- Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)are a class of medications commonly used to treat depression. TCAs affect serotonin and norepinephrine levels, two chemicals in the brain that are thought to be involved in mood regulation. TCAs can cause side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, and blurred vision. Examples of Tricyclic medications include Pamelor, Tofranil, and Norpramin. Possible side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Urine retention,
- Drop in blood pressure
- Weight loss.
- AI softwaresuch as Alexa, Siri, and others are being used more and more frequently to help people with depression manage their symptoms and get help when they need it most. These programs can provide support and assistance 24/7 and help connect people with therapists or other mental health resources when necessary.
A new-age technological wunderkind, AI software makes it possible to absorb human responses and detect subtle changes in voice tone, inflection, and pitch. Then, with a machine learning algorithm, Alexa can help individuals to understand the warning signs. As a result, AI technology often gets to experience the most personal interactions with household members. Alexa is one example that uses multifunctional technologies and repositories of information to generate helpful responses.