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Medication-free Interventions for Depression

These treatments have been proven to be effective for mood disorders and are backed by scientific research:



1. Exercise

The last thing a depressed person wants to do is exercise but it is well known that regular physical activity elevates the mood and provides a sense of well being. This is done in part by increasing certain brain neurotransmitters and in part by modulating stress response.





2. Bright Light Therapy (BLT)

This refers to the use of bright light to treat symptoms of depression. Sleep disturbance is a core symptom of depression and of other mood disorders. BLT helps regulate the circadian rhythm, It triggers and increases the amplitude of melatonin production as well as higher serotonin levels. Sleep regulation helps the depressed person start to feel better.






4. Behavioral activation Therapy (BAT)

This behavioral component of CBT has been found to be a “stand alone” treatment for depression and it is highly effective.It guides the person to understand that their emotions are the result of their actions. It helps the depressed person to identify activities that add meaning to their life, like reading, listening to music, volunteering, visiting with friends and family, etc. The person is told to do these things without waiting for their mood to get better.





6. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

During TMS treatment a large magnetic coil is held against the scalp on the Left Prefrontal Region of the brain. This area is near what is thought to be the “mood center”. Without pain, magnetic pulsations pass through the skull to stimulate the nerve cells. TMS helps normalize the activity of brain circuits involved in depression. The treatment is not invasive and there is no need for an anesthetic. In October, 2008 the US Food and Drug Administration cleared the first TMS device for the treatment of Major Depression




3.Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This is a type of “talk” therapy but also a “do” therapy relying in the delegation of “tasks” to the patient. It focuses on changing negative thought patterns, on learning to redefine problems and on finding new ways to approach them





5. Mindfulness Training

People are told to pay attention in a particular way: to do it on purpose, in the present moment, and without judging. They are thought to bring their mind to mundane objects or activities in everyday life. You practice mindfulness by eating mindfully, walking mindfully, “observing” your breathing, connecting with your senses, resting between actions, listening attentively with mind and heart and “getting lost” in doing what you love.