VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
rTMS: Hope for persistent depression
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and carries the heaviest burden of disability among mental and behavioral disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Many Veterans are no stranger to experiencing depression. In fact, “in 2008, VA estimated about one in five had serious symptoms that suggest the need for further evaluation for major depression and one in eight have major depression.” (VA Office of Research and Development, September 2016).
While depression is a treatable condition, standard treatments aren't always effective for everyone. A recently approved procedure known as Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is now available for patients. VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) has taken steps to make the best possible depression treatments available and now offers rTMS treatment for Veterans.
rTMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses powerful magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, according to Dr. James Haug, a psychiatrist at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center. Through this procedure, it’s possible to stimulate activity in areas where it is suppressed in depression. rTMS is generally well tolerated. Mild side effects may include lightheadedness, headache, twitching, or discomfort at the site of treatment. These typically improve shortly after a treatment session and decrease over time with additional sessions.
Introducing rTMS treatment at ECHCS “shows our commitment to providing the most up-to-date advanced treatments for depression,” Haug added.
For those whose depression symptoms haven’t improved with standard mental health treatments, rTMS may be a viable option. Talk with your VA mental health provider for more information or referral for rTMS treatment.