Over the past year, rates of depression have skyrocketed across the United States. Children’s hospitals alone saw an almost 20% increase in admissions for suicide attempts last summer.
Social isolation and uncertainty may be to blame. Whatever the cause, depression and suicidal ideation are on the rise.
Many people with depression benefit from antidepressant medications. But these drugs generally take several weeks to start working.
Scientists wanted to find a faster solution.
The answer? Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy (SAINT).
A group of Stanford researchers published a paper on SAINT last spring. This treatment helped resolve depression symptoms for 90% of people in the study.
SAINT uses a special form of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This post will cover everything you need to know about this exciting new treatment.
Are you experiencing Major Depressive Disorder? Have you found limited (if any) success with conventional treatments?
Then keep reading to find out whether SAINT is the right option for you!
Exploring Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy
So, what is SAINT exactly?
This treatment was first explored during the Stanford study. Over twenty people volunteered to be part of this research.
All of these people fit the criteria for severe depression. They also did not respond to treatment with at least one antidepressant medication.
Scientists first used imaging technology to find out what part of each brain they should target. They then used a specific type of TMS therapy called intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS & cTBS).
Theta Burst Stimulation
Theta burst treatment is much shorter in time than conventional TMS options. The theta burst process typically lasts a total of only three to four minutes.
iTBS delivers short bursts of magnetic frequencies to specific areas of the brain. These bursts are brief but powerful.
In Major Depressive Disorder, certain areas of the brain are not active enough. Theta burst can help stimulate these areas to make your neurons more active.
In the SAINT study, scientists used iTBS treatment for only five days. Each day, participants had ten sessions. These sessions were ten minutes long, and study members had fifty-minute breaks in between.
Scientists tested each participant before and after this treatment.
What the scientists found was shocking. 90% of participants went into remission from Major Depressive Disorder.
Of course, these were the immediate study results. But scientists found that 60% of participants were still in remission one month later.
Future tests also showed that there were no serious side effects from this study. Participants experienced mild discomfort at most. But any symptoms resolved quickly over time.
Some people who entered this study reported something called “brain chatter.” They would constantly hear an internal voice repeating negative or depressive thoughts.
Using imaging technology, researchers targeted a precise brain region for each participant.
They then delivered rapid and powerful bursts to this specific area. Participants reported feeling relief from symptoms like brain chatter after as little as one day.
Most participants experienced relief within three days.
The SAINT study results are exciting because they show just how powerful TMS therapy can be.
Benefits of SAINT for Depression Treatment
People dealing with severe depression may experience suicidal ideation. This process includes ongoing thoughts of suicide.
Anyone handling such a severe symptom needs immediate support. Antidepressant medication can take weeks to work. But people in this situation need rapid treatment.
The Stanford scientists behind SAINT say that their treatment could help keep suicidal individuals safe. The treatment takes place over only a few days. And some people see results on the first day of SAINT.
This could be a revolutionary treatment for severe depression. SAINT is also safe and has virtually zero side effects.
SAINT Leads the Way
Past treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) have not been as successful as SAINT. And ECT is surrounded by controversy.
ECT is also less effective. Many sources note that ECT is only about 50% effective.
On the other hand, conventional TMS therapy takes place across about 6 weeks. This may be effective for many patients. But if you need more immediate relief from your symptoms, SAINT might be a better option for you.
Another advantage of SAINT is that it pinpoints a specific brain region. This can make your therapy even more targeted.
The scientists behind SAINT are working on a new trial now. The first trial they conducted didn’t include a placebo group. This means that all the participants received the same treatment.
The future study will include a group that does not receive real TMS therapy. This will allow the researchers to test SAINT more accurately.
In the coming years, scientists will also be considering SAINT as a treatment for other conditions.
For example, some patients people with PTSD or addiction have found relief through conventional TMS treatment. These individuals might also benefit from treatment with SAINT.
One of the biggest issues surrounding other depression treatments is just how time-intensive this treatment can be. Some individuals who take antidepressant medications don’t see improvement for months.
Of course, many other individuals do not respond to antidepressant medications at all.
If you’re dealing with Major Depressive Disorder, you might be frustrated when treatments fail. Or you might be looking for a quick solution. If that’s the case, iTBS therapy might work for you.
Give TMS a Try Today
Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy is a promising new treatment. Here at Brain Center TMS, we draw on top-tier research to inform our practice.
Our highly trained team is committed to helping each client achieve their health goals. Our theta-burst treatment is based on the latest research to get you the results you need.
If you’re interested in learning more about what Brain Center TMS can do for you, schedule a free consultation now. We look forward to supporting you on your journey to better health!