May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – During the month of May, TMS of the Treasure Coast / Joseph J Altieri MD PA observes National Mental Health Awareness Month and encourages people suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) to ask their physicians about treatment options.


Major depression is a serious mental illness that affects more than 14 million American adults every year. Of those suffering from depression, 6.8 million will not seek treatment (1). Often a debilitating disorder, depression results in a persistent state of sadness that interferes with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, and physical health. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible.

According to the standard diagnosis guide (DSM-IV-TR) published by the American Psychiatric Association, depression is diagnosed when a person is experiencing either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure plus four or more of the following symptoms during the same two-week period (2):

•           Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain (a change of more than five percent of body weight in a month)

•           Significant increase or decrease in appetite

•           Excessive sleepiness or insomnia

•           Agitation and restlessness

•           Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

•           Feelings of worthlessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt nearly every day

•           Diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions

•           Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Depression is often chronic and recurrent. Fifty-five to 70 percent of people who experience a single depressive episode can have a second episode and more than 70 percent of those who experience a second episode will have a third within three years without treatment (3). There are many treatment options available for people suffering from MDD including psychotherapy (talk therapy), anti-depressant medications and non-medicinal therapies.

Antidepressant medication options include, but are not limited to, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and augmenting with atypical antipsychotics.

Non-medicinal treatments include NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy®, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS):

•           NeuroStar TMS Therapy uses an MRI strength magnet to create magnetic pulses aimed directly to an area of the brain thought to be involved in regulating mood resulting in an electric current in that part of the brain; TMS therapy does not involve surgery or the creation of a seizure induction and has minimal side effects.

•           During ECT, electrical currents are passed through the brain to induce a seizure; it requires anesthesia and muscle relaxants during administration.

•           VNS uses electrical impulses through a surgically implanted pulse generator attached to the vagus nerve to indirectly affect mood centers of the brain.

Helen Murray, LMHC from TMS of the Treasure Coast is available to speak about MDD and treatment options available to people in the Treasure Coast region suffering from the illness.

About NeuroStar TMS Therapy

Neuronetics’ NeuroStar TMS Therapy system was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2008 for the treatment of adult patients with MDD who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from one prior antidepressant medication at or above the minimal effective dose and duration in the current episode. NeuroStar TMS Therapy is a non-systemic (does not circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body) and non-invasive (does not involve surgery) form of neuromodulation. It stimulates nerve cells in an area of the brain that has been linked to depression by delivering highly focused MRI-strength magnetic field pulses. The treatment is typically administered daily for four to six weeks.

In clinical trials, patients treated with active NeuroStar TMS Therapy experienced an average reduction in their depression symptom score of 22.1 percent compared to a nine percent (4) reduction in patients receiving inactive treatment. In an open-label clinical trial, which is most like real world clinical practice, approximately one in two patients experienced significant improvement in symptoms, and one in three experienced complete symptom resolution (5). There were no systemic side effects such as those experienced with some antidepressant medications. The most common adverse event related to treatment was scalp pain or discomfort at the treatment area during active treatment6. There is a rare risk of seizure with TMS Therapy (0.1 percent of patients under general clinical use).

NeuroStar TMS Therapy is contraindicated in patients with non-removable metallic objects in or around the head. It is not indicated or effective for all patients with depression and it is available only upon the prescription of a psychiatrist.

For full safety and prescribing information, visit

Availability of NeuroStar TMS Therapy

Treatment with NeuroStar TMS Therapy is available at more than 300 treatment centers in 38 states. For information on specific treatment or call Neuronetics Customer Service Center at (877) 600-7555.

Visit for more information.

1.         Kessler, RC.  The Epidemiology of Women and Depression.  Journal of Affective Disorders, 2003 Mar: Vol. 74, Issue 1, Pages 5-13Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Version IV-TR (2000): American Psychiatric Association.

2.         Frank, E. & Thase, M.E. (1999). Natural history and preventative treatment of recurrent mood disorders.  Annual Review of Medicine, 50, 453-468.

3.         Data on file at Neuronetics, Inc.

4.         Janicak, P.G., O’Reardon, J.P., et al. (2008, February). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in the Treatment of Major Depression: A Comprehensive Summary of Safety Experience from Acute and Exposure and During Reintroduction Treatment.  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

5.         Demitrack, M.; Thase, M. (2009). Clinical Significance of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the Treatment of Pharmacoresitant Depression: Synthesis of Recent Data. Psychopharmacology Bulletin, Vol 42, No. 2. pp 5-38

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