9 Tips For Maintaining Mental Wellness After TMS Therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a highly effective treatment for depression. One study found nearly 63% of patients continued to find relief from depression symptoms a year after the initial treatment course. Like any depression treatment, complete remission isn’t a guarantee. There are several steps you can take to maximize treatment effectiveness and prevent relapse:

1. Get Enough Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there’s a negative cycle between sleep problems and depression. Poor sleep contributes to depression, and depression also causes sleep struggles. Set yourself up for success with some healthy sleep habits.

Start a routine of trying to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. With a regular bedtime, reducing screen time within the two hours before you sleep should be more attainable. Try meditation or relaxing yoga before bed if you struggle to wind down without watching TV or scrolling on your phone.

Reduce caffeinated beverages, especially after noon each day. Ensure your mattress is comfortable and your room is cool, dark, and clutter-free. Reducing blue-light exposure from electronics, your routine, and your sleep environment are crucial for getting deeper, more restorative sleep.

2. Eat A Balanced Diet

Studies support the belief that mindful, balanced eating can boost mental well-being and help combat depression. Your diet should contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats such as olive oil, fish, and avocados. Reduce intake of fatty meats, processed and prepackaged foods, sugary desserts, and drinks other than water.

3. Stay Active

Research shows exercise can act as an antidepressant. Moderate activity can release endorphins, which have a mood-boosting effect. When you’re in a depressive episode, finding the energy to work out can be difficult. Try to be more active once you are feeling better during your TMS treatment.

Try walking if the gym isn’t for you. Increase the length of time, distance, or intensity as you start to feel the positive effects. Your aim should be to get around 150 minutes of active time per week.

4. Reduce Stress

When you have too many choices in your life, you can experience increased stress. Daily stress is a huge contributor to depression. Minimize your daily decisions, and your mood will thank you. Take steps by planning your outfit and laying it out beforehand, selecting a daily breakfast for the week, or meal prepping all your lunches and dinners.

Taking measures like this will ensure you don’t panic over decisions and your daily baseline stress is minimal, saving a bit more room for unexpected stressors such as your school or work computer crashing.

5. Cut Back or Eliminate Substance Use

According to a study investigating the recurrence of depression, alcohol and drug use are associated with a higher risk of relapse. It’s best to limit or eliminate all substance use if possible to prevent depression recurrence. Ordering tonic water and lime can help you feel part of the group. Still, if you find you’re struggling to avoid alcohol in certain situations, you can consider taking a break from those meetups until you develop some better coping skills.

6. Focus On Your Relationships

Research shows that more social media usage is associated with depression and low self-esteem. Cutback on scrolling and time spent online. Instead, focus on building solid relationships in the real world. Adequate social support can have a protective effect against depression. Spend time with your friends and family.

If you don’t have quality friends or family nearby, attend social events or find new hobbies to help meet people and build supportive relationships.

7. Create A Plan For Your Triggers

Your treatment team can help you identify your depression triggers and create a plan for when you encounter them. This way, you can start your coping mechanisms preemptively; if you’ve built supportive relationships, you can have someone close check in on you in these situations.

Unavoidable triggers could be an anniversary of a loss, seeing an ex at work or a school function, etc. In those moments, take steadying breaths and remind yourself that you will get through it. Afterward, deploy mood-boosting activities such as meeting up with friends or going for a run. You can always check in with your therapist if you need it.

8. Maintain Your Treatment Plan

Regardless of how well you feel, you must maintain the treatment plan ordered by your medical team. This can include:

  • Continuing talk therapy sessions
  • Continuing your prescription medications as prescribed
  • Checking in with your provider if you encounter low moods or significant life events that could trigger a depressive episode

If you feel like you don’t need something anymore, speak to your doctor before making changes.

9. Be Patient With Yourself

Lastly, be kind to yourself. You may experience remission from TMS treatment. No one can guarantee you will never suffer an episode again. Take the time to put these tips into practice to give yourself the best chance of avoiding depression. Stay in contact with your medical team, especially those providing your mental healthcare. If you do find your mood slipping, reach out immediately to stop your mood in its tracks.