Depression is a common, but serious medical condition caused by disruptions of the brain’s chemical and electrical messaging systems. 10% of adults in the United States will suffer from a depressive episode in their lifetime. In any year, that means about 14 million will be affected.
Symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode include at least two weeks of the following symptoms:
- A sad or depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Lack of concentration
- Low energy
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of guilt and hopelessness.
- Thoughts of death or suicide
While many effective treatments are available, including antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, almost 30% of patients will not benefit significantly. Also, many people cannot tolerate the side effects of antidepressant medication, which include sedation, jitteriness, nausea, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been an effective treatment for depression for decades. However, it involves an invasive procedure requiring anesthesia, weeks of memory loss, need for constant assistance at home, and being unable to work for almost one to two months.