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.