What happens in the brain during depression? How TMS helps? According to the Anxiety & Depression Society of America, depression “affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.” There are several types of depressive disorders, and while they share some similarities among them, each condition has its own unique set of symptoms.


Roughly 35% of people don’t seek treatment for depression, while 45% see a professional and take antidepressants. However, many of those who take medications will find it gives them little to no relief.


What Is Depression?

Depression is defined as affecting “a person’s thoughts, behavior, motivation, feelings, and sense of well-being.” It causes sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and a significant increase or decrease in appetite and sleeping time. People who experience depression can feel the effects from a few days to a few years, which can be very debilitating. 


Some may experience mild depression once in their lives, while others have several severe episodes over their lifetime.  Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a long-lasting, more severe, and intense form of depression. It is also referred to as clinical or major depression.

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Effects of Depression on the Brain


We know depression can affect a person psychologically, but it can also affect the brain’s physical structures. These changes range from inflammation and oxygen restriction to actual shrinking. Depression can change the central control center of your nervous system.

What happens in the brain during depression - BrainStimTMS USA


Recent research has shown that the size of specific brain regions can decline in people who experience depression.

It’s debatable exactly which areas of the brain can experience shrinkage and how much because of depression. However, other studies have shown that the parts of the brain altered are:

  • hippocampus
  • thalamus
  • amygdala
  • frontal
  • prefrontal cortices



Researchers have also found connections between inflammation and depression, though they aren’t sure which causes which. 


Brain inflammation can cause the cells of the brain to die; this can lead to several concerns, including:

  • shrinkage
  • decreasing the function of neurotransmitters
  • lessening the capacity of the brain to change as the person ages 

These can play a part in negative brain development, learning, memory, and mood. 

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Oxygen Restriction

Depression can cause changes in breathing patterns, thus reducing oxygen in the body. When the brain has less oxygen, it can lead to:

  • inflammation
  • brain cell injury
  • brain cell death

As stated above, inflammation and cell death can lead to many symptoms associated with development, learning, memory, and mood. Even a short-term decrease in oxygen can lead to confusion.

What happens in the brain during depression? How TMS helps?

What happens in the brain during depression? How TMS helps?


Structural and connective changes


The effects of depression on the brain also can result in structural and connective changes. Some of these changes include memory impairment, attention span, and mood and emotional regulation.


Treating Depression with TMS


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a treatment method for those with depression and other debilitating psychological disorders who don’t respond to antidepressants. 


Working to re-balance chemicals, TMS stimulates nerve cells in the area of the brain thought to control mood. These magnetic pulses cause a positive effect on the brain’s neurotransmitter levels. TMS benefits include reducing symptoms and even causing depression to go into long-term remission.

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Getting Started With TMS – What happens in the brain during depression? How TMS helps?

TMS therapy for depression has helped millions of people so far, and continues to grow. S BrainStimTMS therapy uses our state-of-the-art technology including all three FDA cleared treatment protocols, including 3, 19, and 37-minute treatment sessions. 75% of our patients see a significant decrease in symptoms after receiving treatment, and 45% reach remission. 


If you are interested in finding out more about our TMS Therapy for depression program we invite you to contact BrainStimTMS USA for a consultation. To find out more about how TMS helps depression visit our frequently asked questions or the TMS Blog for more information.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for VA patients has also helped in beating depression in the military and PTSD among veterans.

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