Is Depression Normal

The question of “is depression normal?” is a slightly tricky one to answer because the answer is both yes and no. In terms of the brain and biology, it is not exactly normal. However, depression is a common illness found in people all over the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 3.8% of the global population is affected with depression, including 5% among adults and 5.7% among adults older than 60 years. It is believed that approximately 280 million people of all ages struggle with depression.  

What to Know About Depression 

Depression is different from the occasional bout of sadness. The National Institute of Mental Health describes depression (or major depressive disorder/clinical depression) as a serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how you think, feel, and handle daily activities. Depression symptoms must also be present for at least two weeks for it to be diagnosed. It can be a very difficult thing to struggle with, as it often robs people of the joys they have in life and the activities they usually participate in. Depression can seep into all parts of a person’s life and affect them at work, in school, or in their family life. It can also lead to physical health problems and drive a person to suicide at its most severe point. Sadly, over 700,000 people die by suicide every year. 

It is also documented that women are affected more by depression than men, although this could be due to men underreporting and not seeking help for various reasons. Thankfully, there are known effective treatments for mild, moderate, and even severe depression. However, people may face barriers to accessing mental health care, such as lack of resources, lack of mental health care providers, and social stigma that still surrounds the topic. 

The Different Forms of Depression 

Depression is actually classified into several different types. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the standard used to classify mental disorders and is currently in its fifth edition. The DSM-5 breaks down the definition of depression and the different types to help professionals improve diagnosis, treatment, and research. It is important to recognize that they all have common symptoms, but there are also some definitive differences. 

  • Peripartum Depression: Also known as postpartum depression, it is a more severe form of depression that occurs during pregnancy or after a new mother has given birth. This is not just the “baby blues,” as that is a mild form of depression that usually goes away within about fourteen days after delivery. Peripartum depression is generally characterized by feelings of extreme sadness, fatigue, withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable, loss of interest in the baby, or even thoughts of harming the baby. Peripartum depression needs to be addressed and treated by a doctor. 
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Also known as seasonal depression. It is the onset of depression during the winter months when the Earth is furthest away from the Sun and receives the least amount of sunlight in the year. Symptoms, such as social withdrawal, weight gain, and increased sleep, last for about four to five months out of the year. They also usually start around late fall and continue until the beginning of Spring. Seasonal affective disorder is cyclical and occurs every year. For it to be diagnosed, major depressive symptoms must be present for a specific season at least two years in a row, although not everyone will experience symptoms every year. 
  • Bipolar Disorders: While bipolar disorder is different from depression for a major reason, it still falls under the category of mood disorder. Bipolar disorders (there are three types) cause extreme mood swings and when people are experiencing low mood it actually meets the criteria of major depression, which is also referred to as bipolar depression. The key difference is that people also experience the opposite of depression, where they become extremely hyper (referred to as mania). Bipolar disorder is broken down into bipolar I, bipolar II, and clythomythic disorder. Bipolar disorder can cause a serious impairment in function, but when treated correctly people can go on to have a satisfying life. 
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Previously referred to as dysthymic disorder. Persistent depressive disorder is characterized by having depression for more days than not for at least two years. This disorder often develops in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. Symptoms include depressed mood, poor appetite or overeating, insomnia, fatigue, low energy, and a general feeling of being “down in the dumps.”  
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is different from PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, in that it is much more severe. It was added to the DSM when the fifth edition was published in 2013 and is characterized by the onset of symptoms a week to ten days before the beginning of menstruation. Symptoms can be mood swings, depressed mood, irritability, decreased interest in daily activities, sense of being out of control, sleep problems, lack of energy, changes in appetite, weight gain, bloating, and breast tenderness. PMDD can be treated with antidepressants and birth control.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD): This is a childhood condition that usually occurs between the ages of six and eighteen. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder includes irritability, anger, and frequent temper outbursts and is more intense than what is typical for that child’s developmental age. These outbursts can involve physical aggression towards a person or thing and must happen three or more times within a week. This is another new diagnosis that was added for the first time in the DSM-5. This disorder is found more often in males than females and can occur alongside other conditions.  

Is Depression Hereditary?  

When it comes to depression, the research suggests that it comes down to biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Depression is known to run in families and Stanford medicine says that if a person has a parent or sibling with major depression then that person most likely has a two to three times greater risk of developing depression, in comparison to the average person. However, no one simply inherits depression. Instead, they inherit a certain gene or set of genes that makes them predisposed to depression and there are many things that can “activate” these genes. Unfortunately, researchers are still trying to figure out which genes may be at fault for causing depression, and having the genes does not guarantee that someone will develop depression but simply increases their risks. 

Depression can also be triggered by other things, such as adverse life events. These events could be things like loss of a job, loss of a loved one, abuse, and other traumatic situations. Having a negative change in life circumstances or any stressors that are too overwhelming can easily launch someone into depression. A person’s environment also has a large impact on their chances of developing depression. If someone is continuously exposed to violence, neglect, poverty, or abuse for any length of time then they are more at risk. Even certain physical illnesses and medications can trigger it and psychological state, such as having low self-esteem or being a pessimist, has an effect as well. 

How to Ask for Help with Depression 

Depression is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. The way for the stigma around mental health to disappear is for more people to open up about their experiences and to get help. If you are wanting to know how to seek help for depression and are not sure where to start then please don’t worry. There are so many resources available now and the internet is an invaluable tool in searching for a therapist, or hotline numbers to call and talk to someone, and other general information.  

Of course, it can be difficult to admit that you need help, so a great place to start may be to talk to someone that is close to you and that you trust, such as a spouse, family member, or friend. Family and friends can be a great source of comfort and support. They can be there to simply listen to you, remind you to take care of yourself, hang out with you, and/or take you to therapy appointments. The list goes on really. Reaching out to a professional is another step in the process to overcoming depression. Doctors can help you and prescribe medication, or even offer a referral to a psychologist or therapist. Students can turn to a trusted teacher or their guidance counselors and college students should have counseling services offered on campus. Finding a therapist can also be a great option, as they can help you develop the life skills and tools that you need.  

If you are currently in distress or feel like harming yourself then reach out and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  

How to Treat Depression 

The usual course of treatment for depression is a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Doctors may also turn to other forms of treatment, such as TMS. 

Antidepressants are a type of medication that is used to treat depression and mood disorders and they work by changing the chemicals, called neurotransmitters (ex. Serotonin and Dopamine), in the brain. Generally, they are non-habit forming, although you should not go off them without guidance from your doctor, as you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking them. Doctors also expect antidepressants to start working within 2-4 weeks but may keep you on them for several months to see if they do work or not. Some of the common categories of antidepressants are SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), SNRIs (Serotonin Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors), TCAs (Tricyclic antidepressants), MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors), and NASSAs (Noradrenaline and Specific Serotonergic Antidepressants).    

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and change those patterns/behaviors. It has been shown to be very effective for those struggling with depression. CBT can be conducted as individual or group therapy and the goal is to teach people the proper coping and problem-solving skills they need. While most people start to see an improvement after a few sessions, it can take up to twenty sessions to complete this therapy.   

How Does TMS Help Depression? 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is another effective method of treating depression that is usually used when medication and talk therapy have previously failed. TMS is a non-invasive procedure that involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain. By stimulating specific areas of the brain that are associated with controlling mood patients can see significant improvement in their depression. To conduct TMS therapy, a specialist will place an electromagnetic coil on your forehead and send magnetic pulses to the regions of the brain that have been mapped out beforehand. This kind of therapy does take several sessions over the course of weeks, but a significant amount of people start to notice a difference after a few sessions. It is painless and does not require any overnight stays. 

Need to See Someone for Depression? 

If you are looking for therapy services for depression or have questions, call Gemini Health today! Our highly skilled mental health professionals are experienced in treating various mental and behavioral health concerns. Gemini Health offers various therapeutic services for all clients. Call (301) 363-1063 and speak to our dedicated staff to schedule your appointment today!  

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Causes of Brain Fog

Brain fog can be experienced as confusion, lack of mental clarity, inability to focus, and forgetfulness. For some individuals, they may experience feeling disoriented or distracted, or regular daily tasks may take longer to complete. These experiences of brain fog are a common characterization of this state.

What Is Brain Fog? 

Experiencing brain fog can be a scary occurrence. Especially if it seems to be happening frequently. You may begin to worry about the impact it has on your day-to-day life. Many people use the phrase “brain fog” in different ways, but what is it? Brain fog is not a medical condition but can be a side effect from other underlying conditions.  

Brain fog can be experienced as confusion, lack of mental clarity, inability to focus, and forgetfulness. For some individuals, they may experience feeling disoriented or distracted, or regular daily tasks may take longer to complete. These experiences of brain fog are a common characterization of this state. 

If you find yourself overworking, persistently stressed out, or have a lack of sleep, you may be laying the ground work for brain fog to manifest itself. When evaluated from a biological stance, brain fog may also be due to a cellular change in the body. High levels of inflammation and hormonal changes that determine mood and focus may contribute to your brain fog. Individuals may also be susceptible to other conditions once brain fog is present, such as obesity, hormonal imbalances, and diabetes.  

What Causes Brain Fog? 

Brain fog can be disorienting and frightening. Your ability to think clearly becomes impaired and the effects on your cognitive function become apparent. Because brain fog is typically a symptom of another condition, this type of cognitive dysfunction may have several explanations. Some potential causes of your brain fog may be: 

Depression: Depression is a mental illness that can take a significant toll on your thinking, behavior, and mood. As mental health conditions/concerns increase, the more likely you are to experience brain fog. Your ability to think clearly becomes affected because your brain functioning changes. These changes impair the brain and prevent it from working as effectively as it could.  

Sleep Deprivation: Lack of sleep, whether it’s one day or several days can negatively impact your ability to think clearly or focus. You may be suffering from insomnia (which may require medical supervision) and find yourself becoming easily confused. Poor sleeping habits can increase your feelings of disorientation, distraction, and fogginess. 

Anxiety/Stress: When you experience anxiety and stress, your ability to focus becomes negatively impacted. The anxious anxiety that may consume you also exhausts your brain. Your cognitive energy becomes hyper focused on what is stressing you out, and you begin to lose your present focus. This creates mental exhaustion. When you are mentally exhausted, your memory suffers, your ability to focus suffers, and your mental health suffers. If you find your mental health degrading, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus. This will only compound your daily confusion.  

Hormonal Changes: Shifts in hormones can greatly impact your physical and emotional health. When your body experiences high levels of anxiety and stress, your brain also releases “stress hormones.” The brain releases cortisol, and elevated cortisol levels impact your cognitive functioning negatively. This feeling of “burn out” occurs from the weakening connection in the brain due to these stress hormones. Also, elevated estrogen and progesterone that naturally occurs during pregnancy causes noticeable shifts, colloquially referred to as “pregnancy brain.” And attention to details and focusing on tasks begins to feel impossible.  

Diet: The brain (just as the rest of your body) requires proper nutrition and care. If your diet is composed of unhealthy food that do not support cognitive functioning, your ability to maintain mental clarity is impacted. It is critical for your brain to receive nutrients such as iron and vitamin B-12. 

Medications: It is not uncommon for some people to experience brain fog from certain medications. These prescriptions may have side effects that include cognitive disfunction. Your medication may cause you to be confused or have an inability to focus. You may find yourself experiencing increased fatigue. It is critical that you discuss any of these side effects experienced with your doctor. You may need to adjust the dosage of your medication or change it entirely.  

What Does Brain Fog Do To Your Mental Health? 

Mental clarity and the ability to focus are interconnected to brain health. Sometimes, it may also feel like a “chicken and the egg” situation. If you suffer from a mental illness, your risk for brain fog increases. And with the inability to concentrate or finding yourself unable to complete daily tasks, you may become disheartened and find your mental health deteriorating. Dark thoughts and cloudy thinking become intertwined.  

Your cognitive disfunction can have an impact on your mental health. Sometimes the causes of your mental illness and your brain fog may be triggered by the same catalyst. High levels of stress, poor diet, and hormonal imbalances can lead to an increase of brain fog and exacerbated symptoms of mental illness.  

Interestingly enough, a common cause for both mental illness and brain fog can be traced to brain inflammation. Inflammatory responses in the brain foster depression symptoms, anxiety, and exhaustion. And the way inflammation manifests in the brain, so does cognitive dysfunction. When the brain’s ability to produce neurons becomes affected, communication between the cells becomes difficult. These responses are so similar it may make it difficult to determine which symptom is caused by what.  

How To Treat Brain Fog 

Determining how to treat your brain fog is contingent on determining its cause. Some minor and moderate lifestyle changes can significantly improve your brain fog and its related symptoms. Some changes that may help your cognitive dysfunction are: 

  • Diet Change: Improving your diet with healthier food choice encourages brain health 
  • Meditation: Decreasing your stress levels can encourage positive thinking 
  • Sleep: Enough sleep and rest will support brain health 

Other options to foster a healthy brain environment and improve brain function would be the incorporation of vitamins and supplements. Some vitamins to consider incorporating in your daily routine are: 

  • Ginseng: Helps regulate the body’s immune responses and stress induced hormonal changes 
  • Fish Oil: The omega 3 fatty acids improve brain function, vision, and motor skills 
  • Ginkgo Biloba: The anti-inflammatory effect improves mood, increases energy, and improves memory. It can also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Vitamin B Complex: These vitamins encourage your body to make and store energy from your food and red blood cells. They also assist in proper bodily functions and the digestive system.

What To Take Away 

While brain fog can be frustrating and inconvenient, there are things you can do to improve your brain’s ability to function. The important thing to do is not ignore symptoms, regardless of how mild they may appear. If left untreated the quality of your life may be negatively impacted. Relief from brain fog is possible.  

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How to treat postpartum depression

Bringing home a new baby can be an exciting and scary event. Family members often find themselves having difficulty learning how to adjust to this dynamic in the early days of an infant. The new mother’s hormones are still fluctuating as well as the emotions of the family members. It is not uncommon for there to be bouts of frustration, anger, and sadness. Eventually hormones do level-off and individuals develop a new rhythm to their daily routines. For some mothers, the feelings of sadness and frustration do more than linger. They become more severe, and the depression becomes more long lasting. When these symptoms last longer than two weeks and become more severe, the new parent is suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD). 

Women experiencing postpartum depression may have difficulty regulating their mood, inability to sleep, intense rage, excessive crying, and feelings of hopelessness. Postpartum depression primarily effects new mothers, but it can affect new fathers as well. New fathers may experience severe anxiety, drastic changes in their behavior, feeling overwhelmed and/or fatigued. In both cases, the chances of experiencing postpartum depression increase when you have a history of depression prior to the birth of a child.  

If you believe you’re experiencing postpartum depression you do not have to be embarrassed. It is a common event that many new parents experience. It is important to reach out to loved ones or medical professionals if you experience any of the following: 

  • Your symptoms last more than two weeks 
  • Your symptoms are getting progressively worse 
  • Your symptoms prevent you from taking care of yourself 
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself or your child 

This condition may require mental health intervention to regulate the tumultuous swing of emotions. Speaking to a medical professional can help. You may be wondering how to treat postpartum depression. A medical professional can provide you with information on how to manage your postpartum symptoms and recommend the appropriate treatment. An increasingly preferred method of treatment is TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). Many new mothers appreciate the benefits of TMS because it is non-pharmacological and non-invasive. They are able to comfortably breast feed their child without fear of any medication passing through breast milk (even if it is a low level). The non-invasive treatment takes a small fraction of time, allowing new parents a large amount of time to still bond with their infant. TMS treatment can be used by both new mothers and new fathers. Parents can begin finding relief for their postpartum and depression symptoms with TMS therapy. 

What Is TMS? 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an FDA approved treatment for chronic depression. The region of the brain that controls depression symptoms also control anxiety symptoms. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been recognized by clinicians as a promising treatment for individuals suffering from depression.  

If you are suffering from postpartum depression and looking for an effective treatment that does not rely on medication, TMS can help. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or TMS) is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation. The nerve cells that are connected to anxiety and depression are stimulated, effecting and altering the brain’s neurotransmitter levels.   

TMS therapy is an intensive approach which has shown to activate regions of the brain that have become dormant. The treatment requires several sessions over a period of time, with relief being provided after a few.    

TMS is a a non-drug treatment that helps provide relief from severe depression and anxiety without the physical side effects associated with medications. This therapy is an outpatient procedure that allows patients to maintain their daily routines while receiving treatment for their anxiety.   

Patients are not prevented from participating in their daily routines from their TMS treatment for depression. New mothers who are breastfeeding won’t have to agonize over fear of their depression medication being potentially transmitted to their infants. (It is important to note that if your psychiatrist recommends you staying on depression medication you should discuss with them your concerns and options. Mental health clinicians would never recommend to abruptly stop ANY treatment.) Patients can utilize TMS treatment for their depression by itself or in conjunction with a medication regimen and talk therapy. Each person is different and the nature of their postpartum symptoms may vary.  

If you are struggling with Postpartum Depression and are confused about where to start looking for help, please call Gemini TMS (301) 363-1063. We are a team of mental health professionals who can help treat and manage your depression symptoms.  

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Managing Your Chronic Pain And Depression

The relationship between chronic pain and depression can be a complex and intricate condition. The links between these two states can influence and exacerbate emotional and physical symptoms.  

The link between chronic pain and depression may seem elusive and unexplainable for many. One is a physical manifestation of symptoms. Another is an emotional manifestation of symptoms. But these separate conditions can exist simultaneously. They can impact each other in a severe way. Some individuals suffering from chronic pain may begin experiencing depression symptoms due to their functionality and mobility being limited. Others experiencing severe depression may begin seeing their symptoms manifest in a physical way, such as migraines, nausea, and other psychosomatic pains.  

The relationship between chronic pain and depression can be a complex and intricate condition. The links between these two states can influence and exacerbate emotional and physical symptoms. Let's first define these concepts to better understand this frustrating relationship.  


Chronic Pain 

Millions of Americans suffer from daily chronic pain. Individual’s suffering may feel that their functionality and mobility are hindered and limited. Their daily activities may become limited and they feel like they cannot experience a fully lived life. Everyone experiences physical pain in their life. The type and duration may vary, but we all experience it.  

Chronic pain does not just “go away” with some rest. Your brain releases pain signals through the body when it senses an injury or even inflammation. It is part of the body’s inherent protective systems. Whether a small pain or a large one, the nerves send electrical impulses to the brain and process these “messages” as pain. The brain releases these pain signals alerting your body to “danger.” It is how you know something is wrong. Chronic pain releases these signals in a continuous and frequent way. If an individual experiences pain longer than three months, it can be characterized as chronic pain.  

Many people find the quality of their lives impacted. It is vital for anyone experiencing prolonged pain to reach out to a medical professional. Finding comprehensive pain care can establish the patient on the path to pain relief. Chronic pain can be a complex and multifaceted problem for a patient and may require a pain specialist to manage. 

Many of these individuals may suffer the following symptoms: 

  • Low energy 
  • Muscle pain 
  • High levels of stress hormones 
  • Mood disorders 

Chronic pain may make you more physically sensitive and may feel worse as time goes on.  



A mental health condition, depression also affects millions of people around the world. Depression is a mood disorder that can negatively affect your emotional health and daily functioning. Your thinking becomes impacted and you may find yourself with lost interest in loved activities. You may even lose interest in participating in your daily life. Some individuals can experience mild depression symptoms and for others, depression symptoms may be severe and experienced for a length of time.  

Individuals suffering from depression may feel completely limited, if not incapacitated by their symptoms.  

Symptoms of depression may include: 

  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Feeling “down” for the majority of your days 
  • Nausea 
  • Migraines 
  • Muscle pain/joint pain 
  • Feelings of worthlessness 
  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • No interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Weight loss/weight gain 
  • Suicidal thoughts 

Depression And Pain 

The relationship between chronic pain and mental health should be closely monitored because they do impact each other. The mental health effects on chronic pain can be very severe, and vice versa. People who suffer from chronic pain are unfortunately accustomed to limiting their excursions and remaining distant from participating from social events. Trying not to trigger a pain flair up, chronic pain patients have had to learn how to structure their daily lives with restricted movement and limited exposure. Chronic pain patients become more susceptible to depression because of the physical pain and the social isolation.  

Chronic pain already heightens your body’s anxiety and depression. Chronic pain patients become weary of how their daily actions may increase their pain.  


Chronic Pain and Depression Treatment 

Treatment for depression and chronic pain may look very similar. Or they could be two separate treatment modalities. Some individuals may require therapy for depression and chronic pain medication to manage their symptoms. Because the chronic pain symptoms are tangibly evident for doctors, sometimes mental health symptoms may be missed.  

There are a few therapeutic approaches to managing your depression and chronic pain. These approaches to treatment may include: 

  • Antidepressants 
  • Physical activity 
  • Whole body wellness 
  • TMS 

Antidepressants: Depression and chronic pain involve similar brain nerves and neurotransmitter and specific medications can both treat the pain and the mental health symptoms 

Physical activity: Light activity like yoga can help relieve your physical pain by boosting your mobility and encouraging “happy” hormones (like serotonin) to be released in the body 

Whole Body Wellness: Taking the time to do some journaling or reading can help “center and focus” your thoughts so they are not consumed by pain or depression. Scheduling some “self care” like an Epsom salt bath can be both soothing and pain relieving.  


TMS: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation. TMS therapy targets the under-active regions (that are correlated to mood and sensations) with magnetic pulses. These pulses stimulate brain cells and improve brain function. The neurotransmitters in these regions can also be responsible for physical sensations being experienced. These mild electromagnetic pulses stimulate the nerve cells allowing long lasting changes in brain chemistry, providing relief. It also encourages the brain to create serotonin to improve mood and relieve symptoms. 

Loneliness can be incredibly devastating. It’s crucial for patients to reach out. Even if its virtual, reach out to your friends and family. Send texts, make phone calls, and write emails. You should also prioritize your sleep.  

Indulge with lavender oil to help you fall asleep. Or even supplements like Valerian root or Melatonin. While you may be adding vitamins and essentials oils, it’s also incredibly important to make your doctor (or psychiatrist) aware of these additional treatments.  

If you are struggling with chronic pain and depression, and feeling confused about where to start looking for help, call Gemini Health (301) 363 - 1063. We are a team of mental health professionals who can help treat and manage your mental health and physical symptoms. 

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TMS Therapy for Depression: What To Expect

TMS involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain in order to improve any symptoms associated with depression. This is a non-invasive procedure that should be performed in a doctor’s office by a medical professional. It is usually recommended when the combination of medication and talk therapy has failed to work, as they are typically the first line of defense when someone is seeking treatment for depression. 

TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and it is a form of therapy that is specifically used as treatment for severe depression. TMS involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain in order to improve any symptoms associated with depression. This is a non-invasive procedure that should be performed in a doctor’s office by a medical professional. It is usually recommended when the combination of medication and talk therapy has failed to work, as they are typically the first line of defense when someone is seeking treatment for depression. Unfortunately for some, your depression medication may become ineffective due to the body building a tolerance. Studies have consistently shown that TMS therapy does work for those with treatment-resistant depression and can provide long-term relief. It is also FDA approved. So, you may want to look into TMS therapy for depression as a non-pharmacological alternative.  

How TMS is Done 

The concept behind TMS is that certain parts of the brain that control mood are underperforming. Stimulating the nerve cells that are associated with mood and depression will affect neurotransmitter levels, which should improve both mood and depressive symptoms. When having TMS therapy, an electromagnetic coil is placed against the forehead and delivers magnetic pulses to the necessary areas of the brain. The targeted areas are mapped out first as part of your individual treatment plan. This is a rather intensive form of treatment, as it requires multiple sessions over the course of multiple weeks. While every person may have varied results from treatment, typically many begin to experience relief from their depression symptoms within a few sessions. A normal round of TMS will be anywhere between 20-50 minutes, 5 days a week, around 4 to 6 weeks.  

While TMS therapy should not be painful, there may be some side effects that patients may experience. TMS is considered a safe (and generally well-tolerated) treatment with mild side effects. Some patients may experience light headaches and some mild skin irritation. These symptoms should only be mild to moderate, and the doctor may just need to adjust the level of stimulation. You may be able to treat these mild side effects with over-the-counter pain relievers. Rarely, there can be a few serious side effects that may occur. One of the most serious side effects is the potential for seizures, and why this treatment is not an appropriate option for those who suffer from epilepsy or have a history of seizures. 

Before you partake in TMS therapy you will need to have an evaluation to see if this is the right option for you. This will include both a physical and psychological exam. During the exam, you need to be sure that your doctor knows if you are pregnant, have any metal implants anywhere in your body, are on any medications, have any illnesses or injuries of the brain, or have any other health conditions.  

Why You Should Consider TMS Treatment for Depression 

If you have never heard of TMS before then it might sound a little scary at first. A frequently asked question is if it is the same thing as Electroconvulsive Therapy or “shock therapy,” which was invented in the late 1930s and has a very controversial history. Do not worry though because they are not the same thing. ECT has been known to trigger serious effects like memory problems and seizures. TMS therapy, on the other hand, only provides mild stimulation and is considered a safe practice, as it is non-invasive and FDA-approved. Since it does not require you to go under general anesthesia, like ECT does, it also eliminates any risks of the negative side effects of anesthesia.  

Depression can be very debilitating and rob you of the joys of everyday life and major milestones. It is not something that can be completely cured but there is hope that it can be managed and you can function in life again, with an increase in mood, rather than being possibly bed-ridden. Conventional medicine and talk therapy can do wonders for people, but it is not for everyone and it can fail. TMS therapy for depression has a very high success rate, although the exact science behind why it does work is still not fully understood. If no other treatments have worked then it is worth it to try TMS for the possible benefits you stand to gain if it’s successful.   

What Gemini TMS Can Do for You 

Gemini TMS understands the suffering individuals experiencing chronic depression go through, and we are there to help.   

When you come to Gemini TMS you will have the opportunity to have a free consultation with the therapy team to determine if you are a good candidate for TMS. Once you have been approved you will work together with your therapist to determine an individualized treatment plan that best suits your mental health needs.  

Before the first treatment begins the professional will conduct something called mapping. This is a process that determines the location of the brain that they will need to target and the level of “dosage,” that is best for you. To do this, the professional will use the TMS device to send quick electromagnetic pulses to your motor pathway until your fingers or hand twitches (again this should not be painful). Your dosage should be assessed again as you progress with the therapy and it can always be changed at any point if need be.   

For your appointment for TMS therapy, you will be escorted to a private treatment room, where a TMS specialist will make you feel comfortable, and set you up to receive treatment. Patients remain awake through treatment. As previously stated, TMS therapy does not require anesthesia, and individuals are able to drive themselves to and from sessions. The first appointment will be the longest. During your session, you will be sitting in a chair and since you will be awake you can do things, like reading, watching tv, or listening to music. You may also choose to wear earplugs to keep yourself calm and create a quiet environment if that’s what you prefer, as the machine does make some noise. There is no hospitalization or recovery time and you are free to go straight home afterward. 

TMS therapy alone can help you manage your symptoms. However, it can also be used in conjunction with medication and talk therapy if you continue with those courses of treatment.  

If you are ready to schedule an appointment for your first consultation, call (301) 363-1063 to speak with our highly qualified staff.

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LGBTQ+ and Depression

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning individuals (LGBTQ+) span across several diverse communities. While this may be a large community of individuals, the LGBTQ+ community has been routinely, and unfairly marginalized in society. While societal attitudes have grown and improved, this marginalized group still experiences depression at a higher rate than the heterosexual population. This may partially be a result of lingering and antiquated attitudes. Some of these negative beliefs have been internalized by many LGBTQ+ individuals (and their families) for such a long time it may be a challenge to undue the thought process.  

How Depression Affects the LGBTQ+ Community

Depression affects millions of people, but the LGBTQ+ community experiences depression (and depression symptoms) at a disproportionate rate. Misplaced, and antiquated cultural stigmas can make non-heterosexual individuals targets of bullying, abuse, and assault because of their sexual and gender expression. Personal confusion on identity and preference can contribute to these symptoms.  

Hostile and repressive environments can cause several challenges for many LGBTQ+ youth and adults. These environments support a greater chance for individuals to experience depression and anxiety.  

With this in mind, it is important to create systems of support and develop coping methods. For some LGBTQ+ individuals, their depression may be rooted from trauma experienced due to their orientation. The victimization they experienced as youths can establish itself as treatment resistant depression.  

This marginalized group may have already utilized therapy and medications. Talk therapy and antidepressants may be part of their treatment for their depression. Unfortunately for some, they may not find any relief from their symptoms. Their depression may have a strong chemical root in their brain making relief difficult to find.  

This is where TMS can help.  

TMS is an ideal treatment method for LGBTQ+ individuals who suffer from lingering and severe depression. When anyone experiences persistent depression, the body becomes accustomed to receiving a constant release of anxiety and depression signals from the brain.  

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or TMS) is a noninvasive form of brain stimulation. A specialized cap is placed over the patient’s head that sends out magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain. The nerve cells that are connected to mood and depression are stimulated, effecting the brain’s neurotransmitter levels. TMS therapy is an intensive approach which has shown to activated regions of the brain that have decreased activity. The treatment requires several sessions over a period of time, with relief being provided after a few.  

TMS stimulates the areas of the brain that have been inactive, and thus unable to release the serotonin that can combat the depression signals. It is absolutely critical to note that TMS is NOT ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). Establishing this distinction is important because of the fraught history of ECT being used to “treat” homosexuality. Shock therapy was cruelly used on LGBTQ+ individuals as a means to “cure them.”  

While society has grown and the DSM has been updated, this collective memory still exists in the community. The electromagnetic stimulation that TMS provides is to provide relief from treatment resistant depression. TMS can begin alleviating the heavy veil of depression and anxiety, helping patients begin living full lives. 

Patients can utilize TMS as a treatment by itself or in conjunction with their medication and talk therapy. Each person is different, and the nature of their severe depression can vary. But TMS makes long-term remission possible. TMS is a non-drug treatment that helps prevent relief from severe depression without the side effects associated with antidepressant medications. 

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Tachyphlaxis: When Antidepressants Stop Working

Depression is experienced by millions of people over the world. Many people experiencing depression reach out to medical professionals looking for guidance in managing their mental health symptoms. Everyone suffers from depression time to time. When the symptoms become unmanageable, it may be time for medical intervention.  

Individuals should reach out to a mental health professional like a psychiatrist and schedule talk therapy with a counselor. Depending on the severity of the depression, a psychiatrist may also prescribe antidepressants to help manage symptoms.  

What are antidepressants?  

Antidepressants are medications that are prescribed to help relieve an individual suffering from depression, mood disorders, and anxiety. The chemical compounds of these medicines interact with the chemicals present (or lack thereof) in the brain. 

The most common antidepressants prescribed are SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Used in treating clinical depression, SSRI’s block serotonin from being reabsorbed into the brain’s neurons, allowing them to be available in the body.  

The available serotonin improves the messaging from the brain, releasing mood enhancing signals. These signals help shift the clouds of depression away. 

SSRI’s, and other antidepressants improve the chemical balances of the brain that cause chronic depression, allowing for the individual to begin experiencing relief.  

When prescribed antidepressants, it is very important for patients to follow the directions as prescribed. You may experience relief from your depression for an extended period of time.  

For others, the familiar dark feelings begin to creep in and no increase or change in medications seem to help.  

Why do antidepressants stop working?  

Many people experience relief from their chronic depression with the help of antidepressants. They maintain a medication regimen for years that helps them combat and manage their depression. Unfortunately for some, their medication becomes less effective and the individual experiences a depression relapse. 

Some signs to look out for when you think your medication is no longer working: 

  • Your mood seems low 
  • Changes in your appetite or sleeping patterns 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Increasing desire to isolate 

There may be countless of reasons why your antidepressant has stopped working. The most common explanation is tachyphylaxis. Tachyphylaxis is a medical term used to describe when a previously effective medication is no longer successfully treating your condition.  

Just like other chronic illnesses, depression can progress in severity over time. And it will need new approaches in treatment. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (or TMS) can help individuals suffering from treatment resistant depression. 

A noninvasive form of treatment, TMS is a type of depression therapy that sends out magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain. This specific region of the brain is connected with mood, and TMS revives this under active area.  

If you’re suffering from a breakthrough depression, and would like to explore your options with TMS, reach out to a mental health professional for an evaluation. If your psychiatrist believes you are an appropriate candidate for TMS treatment you should schedule an appointment today.  

With the guidance of your psychiatrist patients can utilize TMS as a treatment by itself or in conjunction with their medication and talk therapy. Each person is different, and the nature of their severe depression can vary. But TMS makes long-term remission possible. 

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Covid and Depression

 To say COVID-19 has brought a disruption to our lives is an understatement. Communities across the country have been trying to facilitate working from home, social distancing, lockdowns while juggling childcare needs and virtual school. It has not been easy for many. We have added stressors to our daily lives that we never anticipated.  

We’ve had to restrict our movements, our interactions with others, and have had to be hyper-vigilant about our movements. After months of practicing social distancing, the isolation has begun to take effect on the psyche of many Americans.  

And many, understandably, are not ok.  

Sometimes nonchalantly referred to as “Covid Depression,” many are feeling its heavy burden. For many who had not previously experienced symptoms of depression (let alone mental illness) it may feel like an isolating and frightening time.  

But what about those who were already suffering from chronic depression? Depression affects millions of people over the world. Many people were treating their symptoms with talk therapy and medication. Most have found that the COVID-19 restrictions have heightened the body’s depression and anxiety.  

The pandemic has triggered a mental health crisis for many 

The constant financial anxieties, isolation from loved ones, and worry about personal health have undoubtedly taken its toll. Persistent worry about making ends meet and not being able to rely on traditional support systems like friends and family, those suffering from depression have found their symptoms magnified and their typical methods of coping, failing.  

When the symptoms are getting worse, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional to help you explore options. Prior to the pandemic, many struggled with treatment resistant depression. The pandemic may have transformed those feelings into an unending pit of despair. Treatment resistant depression has become even more terrifying for them.  

It is critically important to reach out to a mental health professional when you find yourself struggling. If your traditional treatment methods like talk therapy and medications have not worked, it may be time to look for a more innovative option.  

And that option may be transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. TMS targets inactive brain regions (that are directly responsible for mood) with magnetic pulses, stimulating brain cells and improving brain function.  

This allows for the nerves to revive and grow. These pulses allow for mood enhancing signals to be sent through the body, providing relief from stubborn depression. TMS therapy directs a concentrated magnetic field to precise locations of the brain to lift the clouds of depression. It also encourages the brain to create serotonin to improve mood and relieve symptoms. 

Consulting with a psychiatrist about this innovative treatment can help determine if you would be a good candidate. This progressive treatment has provided hope to many looking for relief from their stubborn depression.  

TMS therapy requires several treatments in an office for a period of time. While TMS has demonstrated it can alleviate depression, and unintended benefit (in the age of COVID) is that the patient is provided a change of scenery with visits to the office.  

While we do not know how long the social and emotional ramifications of COVID (and its restrictions) will last, the important thing is not to ignore your symptoms. Your mental health matters.  

Reach out to a mental health professional for an evaluation today. 

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