Non-Medication Treatments for Depression

Experiencing depression can be difficult, especially if you’ve tried various treatments and still have symptoms. Depression is typically treated through antidepressant medications and psychotherapy or a combination of both, but sometimes different medications and therapies must be tried to find which ones work best.

At Lakeland Regional Health, our experienced and caring team of behavioral health professionals are here for you to help you find the treatment that works best for you. We are pleased to offer alternative treatments for severe depression for those patients where medications and other therapies have not worked.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

(ECT) has long been an effective treatment option for major depression and for a number of other mental illnesses. This treatment uses an electrical current as therapy to stimulate brain activity. After the procedure and a brief time of recovery, you may be able to resume your normal activities, but how soon you can resume activities depends on how well the therapy is tolerated. Patients may notice improvement within the first week or two of treatment, though some may take a bit longer.


What can you expect?

When you arrive for treatment, you will be prepped with an intravenous (IV) line to receive medication for general anesthesia and placed on monitoring equipment. Treatment sessions (including prep and recovery) typically last about an hour and a half, with the procedure itself taking only five to ten minutes. During therapy, electrodes are placed on the scalp and an electrical current is administered that causes a brief seizure. You are not aware of the seizure because of the anesthesia. After the procedure, you will be monitored during your recovery and then given instructions about resuming activities.


Is ECT safe?

 ECT is considered safe and like many other treatments, it can have some side effects, including:

• Headaches, muscle pain, nausea

• Confusion following treatment

• Memory loss, ranging from a few hours or longer


Is ECT an option for you?

If you have major depression and medication and other therapies have not worked, your doctor may feel that ECT is a viable treatment option. Talk with your doctor today to see if ECT is right for you.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

TMS is a treatment for depression that can result in improvement and even remission of symptoms. TMS is not invasive and, unlike Electroconvulsive Therapy, does not require anesthesia. In addition, the risk of side effects is generally considered to be low.


What can you expect?

During a TMS session, an electromagnet is used to deliver magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain while the patient sits comfortably in a chair. The entire session lasts about 30 minutes.


TMS and ECT in the news

  • Options Grow for Patients Whose Severe Depression Resists Medications: Story here. The Ledger, September 2019.
  • ECT Out of the Closet, The Ledger, May 2019.


To learn more about ECT or TMS, call 863.687.1248.