How To Sustain The Positive Effects Of TMS In The New Year

While transcranial magnetic stimulation is one of the most effective treatment options for depression, especially treatment-resistant depression (TRD), it’s not a cure. Nearly two-thirds of patients achieve positive results with the help of TMS, but depression is often chronic. The length of your symptom relief can vary due to the severity of your illness and other environmental factors you can help to mitigate. Review the modifiable factors you can influence to help sustain your TMS remission through the new year:

1. Diet

Studies show that what you eat can influence your depression. The gut is a pathway to the brain helping to regulate hormones. Eating a diet full of processed and sugary foods can contribute to and worsen your depression, while eating a balanced diet can help you combat depression, maintaining your hard-won results with TMS.

One of the easiest ways to cut out sugar is to only hydrate with water. Juice, sports drinks, and sodas add up quickly. Limit your alcohol consumption while you’re at it. Firstly, it’s full of sugars, fermented sugars, sugary mixers, or both. More importantly, it’s a depressant, which means it can slow down your body’s natural processes, bring around feelings of depression and “hangxiety” even in healthy individuals.

2. Sleep

Depression can lead to poor sleep health, but did you know that poor sleep health can also contribute to depression? According to the National Sleep Foundation, individuals who have sleep troubles or sleep less than the recommended hours per night experience higher levels of depressive symptoms. Those who sleep the recommended amount of seven to nine hours and engage in high levels of healthy sleep behaviors report little to no depressive symptoms.

Healthy sleep habits can include:

  • Sleeping in a dark environment; eliminate sunlight and blue light emissions from electronics
  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Getting enough sleep every night
  • Sleeping in a cool environment
  • Having appropriate pillow and mattress support for restorative sleep
  • Using a sound machine if environmental noises often disrupt your sleep
  • Getting any sleep disorders under control, like sleep apnea

3. Exercise

Another factor that can influence sleep is getting enough physical activity each day and far enough away from your bedtime to not keep you up at night. Daily exercise releases endorphins, which act as our bodies’ natural antidepressants. You’re not imagining it; getting moving can actually have a mood-boosting effect.

You can double down by getting your exercise minutes outside. Breathing in fresh air and soaking in some vitamin D from the sun can profoundly affect our mental wellness, especially in the cold winter months.

Exercise doesn’t have to be some strenuous HIIT or CrossFit workout. It can be a simple walk with friends, going out dancing or choosing to take the stairs every day.

4. Stress

Choosing to exercise will also help your daily stress levels. Too much stress is a huge risk factor for depression. When you’re stressed, you easily get overwhelmed, rundown, and anxious, priming you for a depressive episode. Check in regularly on your stress levels and have tactics to combat it.

Focus on activities that help relieve stress permanently, not just in the moment. Having a beer after work may make you feel better temporarily, but you won’t feel good forever. Exercising, honing a new hobby, cuddling your beloved pet, or playing with your little cousins will have the desired stress-relieving effect, and it won’t be so fleeting.

5. Other Treatments

If you were taking medication or seeing a therapist during your TMS treatment, you shouldn’t suddenly stop them. Continue your therapy as prescribed to maintain your results for as long as possible. Regular check-ins with your healthcare team and mental health professionals will improve your well-being.

6. Self-Care

In addition to the self-care elements listed above, practice mindfulness, including practices like gratitude journaling and mindful meditations, which enhance emotional resilience and will help grow your positive outlook on life. Or it could be more mindful self-awareness.

Foster an awareness about your mental health. Identify your early indicators that you could be heading towards a depressive episode and have a plan in place for interventions. Pay attention to changes in your mood, energy levels, and stressors before they escalate. The quicker you can identify an issue, the easier it will be to resolve it. Depression has a way of snowballing if you let it.

7. Goals

A new year is often the time you set goals for yourself. They should be realistic. Whether personal, professional, or health-related, break them down into manageable steps. Read more about goal-setting for the New Year here. This will help you stay motivated, but it will also prevent you from getting discouraged or being too hard on yourself.

Don’t forget to give yourself a break. You’ve accomplished so much. Celebrate the small victories to maintain your momentum and continue your wellness journey.