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Last Updated on August 25, 2020
Although some aspects of our lives are returning to normal, COVID-19 isn’t finished with us yet. Finding ways to stay mentally healthy is challenging when everything is changing. We feel confused and disoriented from losing our bearings. Depression is common, reportedly the leading cause of disability in Americans aged 15-44. But depression is not defeat – you have options! Let’s look inside your mental health tool kit:
• Your brain: Remind yourself of your strengths, and cultivate gratitude for all the opportunities surrounding you. What makes you laugh? Gets your attention? Helps you relax? Seek those out. Indulge in your creativity without listening to your inner critic. Now’s the time to create new experiences and new memories.
• Your social connections: Humans are tribal beings, feeling the safest when belonging to a community. Reach out to someone every day. You miss your social interactions, but you still have multiple means to communicate. Right now, it’s more important than ever to replace toxic people with those who remind you who you are. Negativity is magnified in isolation.
• Your resources: You have the technology! In seconds you can find out what’s going on anywhere in the world. You can learn about new developments such as TMS that might change your life. You might be asking what’s TMS treatment? Read on!
• Your knowledge of self-care: Nutrition, hydration, exercise, and restful sleep. And sunshine, fresh air, and time with nature. Helping others will always make you feel better because you see how needed and appreciated you are.
• Your healthcare providers: Your team has years of specialized training and experience to help you. The mainstays of mental health management have been psychotherapy and medication; when tailored to each patient’s needs, they’re generally helpful. However, many people are very cautious about pharmaceuticals during these difficult times. Your physician might be able to suggest other safe alternatives, such as TMS.
TMS is an exciting new method of easing depression that’s becoming increasingly popular because it’s non-invasive and painless. TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, referring to electromagnetic waves being pulsed through the skull to affect specific areas of the brain involved in mood control. First developed in 1985, TMS was approved by the FDA specifically for depression, although it’s being tested for use with anxiety, psychosis, and other disorders. In 2013 it was approved to treat certain types of migraine pain. The Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Institutes of Health, and Harvard University are among those involved in research.
Is TMS right for you? So far, the most successful results come from patients not responding well to traditional psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. TMS is emerging as a promising alternative or added treatment, so much so that insurance companies often cover it now. After interviewing and examining you, your physician can design an individualized plan just for you.
Treatments are performed on an outpatient basis, without any need for anesthesia or sedation. Because there are generally no lasting side effects, most people drive themselves after their appointments. You remain seated up to an hour while the physician holds an electromagnetic coil against your scalp. The sessions are usually conducted five days a week for four to six weeks and can be repeated later if needed.
Even though we’re living in a time of worldwide societal upheaval, you can rest assured that your healthcare provider is finding the most progressive options to protect your mental health.