More than three million Americans report suffering from clinical depression each year — and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 16 million Americans experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2016. That number makes up almost seven percent of all adults in the country.
A staggering 50 percent of those who experience symptoms of depression won't get any treatment at all, and those who do are often prescribed traditional anti-depressant medications.
But what if those medications don't work for you? Here’s a look into some alternative depression treatments that can be found right here in Acadiana.
Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It also tops the same list across the globe.
"Difficulty sleeping or hypersomnia, sleeping too much, guilt, feeling worthless, feeling sad most every single day, problems with focus and concentration, you can even have intrusive thoughts of wanting to harm yourself,” said Matthew deClouet, a Lafayette-based Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
Like most medical professionals, deClouet would likely first encourage patients to try prescription medications to get some relief.
"You want to really pry and dig and see what they've tried and get specifics of how long they've trialed medications,” deClouet said.
But if you've exhausted all of those avenues, deClouet said thinking outside of the box, or bottle, for treatment is not a bad idea.
"TMS, ECT, even Ketamine, if the client's appropriate for it I think you know, the man goal is symptom remission. So I think all of those approaches, if medications aren't working fully, then I think those approaches would be definitely beneficial to the client,” deClouet said.
Professionals skilled in at least two of the techniques he mentioned are practicing right here in Acadiana, using Ketamine Infusion Therapy and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to treat patients.
While the approach for each is completely different, both were discovered the same way — by accident.
Ketamine Infusion came along in the form of a battlefield anesthetic in the 1960s.
"Put them to sleep so that they could do a quick procedure. Well, a lot of these soldiers that got the Ketamine were found to be almost in a kind of unusually chipper mood afterward,” said Allen Green, RN and Executive Director at Neuromend.
Fast forward a couple of decades to the birth of TMS in the '80s, with the help of a doctor whose patients' treatments involved a lot of MRIs.
"And this doctor started noticing these people's mood was improved. Although they were suffering from a chronic disease, the exposure from the MRI had done something to them,” said Bruce Baudoin, co-owner at TMS of Acadiana.
As explained by Green, Ketamine Infusion works by way of a chemical reaction. Patients are given the drug slowly, through an IV. Then, the body's reaction to the Ketamine releases something called Glutamate, a neurotransmitter which Green said can repair damage to the brain caused by depression.
"Imagine a tree in the winter. It's got no leaves, the branches are kind of wilting, there's just nothing to it. If you give it sunlight and come spring, all of a sudden you've got full branches, you've got leaves, you have a much stronger tree,” Green said.
TMS deals with neurotransmitters as well, but in this case, a magnet is placed near the patient's head, where an electric current is released.
"We use magnetic therapy in a way to train their brain to learn how to depolarize your neurons, and to continue to depolarize your neurons and repolarize,” Baudoin said.
As for concerns like negative side effects, Green said even though Ketamine is known to be abused as a street drug, patients are given an extremely low dose and monitored carefully. (Starting a Ketamine Clinic: Expectations vs. Reality)
And if you're considering TMS, Baudoin said it's important to know that a full 36-session treatment is equivalent to the magnetic exposure of one MRI.
These aren't the only alternatives to prescription medications for treatment-resistant depression out there, but those who've seen success in the techniques say they're more than worth a shot. (Top Rated Ketamine Clinics: 4 Items To Look For)
"Most people who have depression, their brain wasn't functioning correctly in the communication way. So, we give them the neurotransmitters needed for communication. Once their brains start effectively communicating by what we've taught it to do here, then depression tends to go away,” Baudoin said.
"All of sudden, 'Hey, I was able to eat a full meal last night, or wow, I slept eight hours last night. I took my dog for a walk. I played with my kids,” Green said.