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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Freedom from Depression and Anxiety

Jun 03, 2013 04:54PM ● By Paul K. Gross, MD


It is not uncommon for individuals to wonder if they may be suffering from anxiety or depression. They are often surprised, however, to learn that they could be suffering from both. While depression and anxiety might seem like opposites, they do, in fact, affect many people at the same time. Depression can drain us of energy and anxiety can make us keyed up and afraid.  Depression makes it next to impossible to get out of bed and anxiety leaves us sleepless and pacing. But, the truth is not so simple. Depression and anxiety often go together.

Mental health experts estimate that more than half the people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety. Unfortunately, the combination of depression and anxiety can be particularly severe and many people don’t receive the correct diagnosis. The good news is that doctors have good treatments for tackling both conditions and at the top of the list is a new cutting-edge treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy.

Either condition can be disabling on its own, but together, depression and anxiety can be especially hard to live with, hard to diagnose and hard to treat. People diagnosed with both tend to have more severe symptoms, more functional impairment, more trouble finding the right treatment and a higher risk of suicide.

The Symptoms

Symptoms of depression can include: feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, appetite or weight changes, sleep changes, anger or irritability, loss of energy, self-loathing, reckless behavior, concentration problems and unexplained aches and pains.

Symptoms of anxiety can include: feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness, restlessness, sleep disturbance, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, palpitations, shortness of breath, obsessive behaviors, nausea, dry mouth and dizziness.

How TMS Therapy Can Help

TMS therapy is an FDA-cleared, non-invasive medical treatment for patients with depression who have not benefited from initial antidepressant medication. The therapy uses highly focused magnetic pulses to stimulate the areas of the brain thought to control mood. This specific area of the brain, called the left prefrontal cortex, has been identified as under active in people who suffer from depression. TMS therapy causes neurons to become active, leading to the release of neurotransmitters and relieving the symptoms of depression.

Each treatment involves gentle placement of a magnetic coil, similar in type and strength to those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, against the left side of the patient’s head. Treatment takes less than an hour and is conducted in a doctor’s office, five days a week, for approximately four to six weeks. TMS is free of side effects typically experienced with antidepressant medications. Patients are awake and alert during treatment and are able to resume normal activities upon leaving the treatment session.

Patients suffering from depression that also have anxiety components can receive a large reduction in anxiety levels, simply as a result of the treatment protocol used in the treatment of depression. However, in some cases, therapeutic benefit is not fully achieved from the depression treatment protocol alone. Supplementary right-sided treatment for anxiety can be provided.

For more information, visit or call the TMS Center of the Lehigh Valley at 610-820-0700.

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