Depression Treatment Major

Depression medication doesn’t work for everyone — and frankly, neither does therapy. Just as everyone experiences depression a little differently, the most effective treatments for depression vary from person to person.

This interactive video will help determine whether you are a candidate for alternative treatment.

Sometimes, seeking the help of a therapist or taking antidepressants may not make you feel any better. In fact, medication can make you feel worse–a whopping 86 percent of people on antidepressants experience unpleasant side effects, from weight gain to sexual dysfunction. However, most patients don’t understand all of their options when it comes to alternative depression treatment, and choose to “grin and bear” the side effects of medication.

Treating Major Depression without Drugs

Fortunately, there are a number of non-pharmaceutical depression treatments available. These include:

  • Electroconvulsive therapy: During ECT, or “electroshock therapy,” controlled electrical currents are sent through the brain to trigger a seizure, which can regulate mood. While this treatment is often effective, it’s no surprise that it is also controversial: in some cases, ECT can cause confusion and memory loss. Some studies have linked ECT to long-term cognitive deficits, and animal studies have linked ECT to brain damage. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, ECT is an effective depression treatment for about 80 percent of patients.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation: During a TMS session, a large metal coil placed near your forehead passes painless electric currents through your brain. These currents stimulate the portions of the brain that control your mood. TMS is the least-invasive of the brain-stimulation procedures, though it can sometimes result in light headaches and discomfort, and its long-term effects are still being studied. In rare cases, it can trigger seizures. TMS has been studied in research labs for over 25 years, but so far only one TMS device has been cleared for use by the FDA.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation: This procedure requires surgery, during which a pulse generator is implanted into your chest. This generator is attached to a wire that leads to your vagus nerve, which, when stimulated, can positively affect depression symptoms. Vagus nerve stimulation doesn’t work for everybody: it’s only approved for those over 18 with long-term, chronic depression that’s resistant to at least four other depression treatments. While vagus nerve stimulation is highly effective for some patients, it does carry with it some risks — such as breathing problems, infection, and even suicidal tendencies — and it doesn’t work for everyone.

You may wish to consult with your physician to learn which treatment alternative is best for you. Many doctors recommend

TMS as a promising, non-invasive form of depression treatment that can alleviate symptoms for some patients without the need for surgery.

Is Alternative Depression Treatment Right for You?

Many patients find that a combination of medication and therapy works to treat depression symptoms. However, some patients don’t respond to a traditional treatment plan, either because therapy doesn’t get to the core of the issue, or because they can’t find a suitable medication that alleviates their depression symptoms and makes them feel like themselves again.

Aside from unpleasant side effects like agitation, loss of libido and weight gain, some depression medications are linked to suicidal tendencies and increased aggression, particularly in children.

If you’re experiencing side effects from your depression medication, or you don’t feel your therapy plan is working, talk to your doctor about alternative depression treatment options, such as TMS.


Eaton, W., et al. (2007). Prevalence and incidence of depressive disorder: The Baltimore ECA follow-up. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 116(3): 182-88.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Depression (major depression). Retrieved on May 1, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website:

National Alliance on Mental Illness Staff. (n.d.). Depression. Retrieved on May 1, 2010, from the National Alliance on Mental Illness website:

U.S. National Library of Medicine Staff. (2010). Major depression. Retrieved on May 1, 2010, from the MedlinePlus website:

University of Maryland Medical Center Staff. (2009). Major depression: overview. Retrieved on May 1, 2010, from the University of Maryland Medical Center website:

Zarubenko, I., et al. (September 2005). “Electroconvulsive shock induces neuron death in the mouse hippocampus: Correlation of neurodegeneration with convulsive activity.”. Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology 35 (7): 715–721.