Smart TMS provides commentary on how the discussion around mental health needs to improve as many illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated
Mental illness has been garnering more attention in recent years with more celebrities speaking about a range of conditions and more research being done into the various factors that contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. It was reported last year that mental illnesses cost the UK economy £94 billion and it is the single largest cause of disability in the UK.
Research published in 2014, by the NHS, found that a quarter of people in the UK – equating to 16 million people – experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. This ranges from addiction and anxiety to depression and OCD. These conditions also appear to start at an early age with studies showing that three in four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
Despite more research into mental health and an increase in conversations on the subject, many people are wary of going to see a medical professional to get diagnosed or receive treatment due to societal stigma. Research from the Office National Statistics in 2014 found that 36% of common mental health disorders are undiagnosed.
Some may not seek medical advice because they do not realise the severity of their symptoms and therefore do not understand it as a diagnosable condition and others may be fearful of going to their doctor in case they are prescribed medication that is too strong or has negative side effects.
The stigma around mental health appears to be more of a prominent issue for those under 18. 51% of young people believe that anyone their age diagnosed with a mental illness would be embarrassed. 75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment and those who do look for treatment may face extreme roadblocks, as it has been reported that the average waiting time for effective treatment is ten years.
A 2016 study identified that despite a high prevalence of mental health conditions amongst young people, they infrequently seek professional help. After anonymously surveying 203 young adults in the UK, they found that 35% of participants who reported having an emotional or mental health difficulty did not seek any formal or even informal help. This shows that people are not just wary of approaching medical professionals, but are also unlikely to seek help from their friends and family.
It is not only young people who are not receiving the correct diagnoses. Research on Scottish pensioners found that a quarter of people aged 65 and over experienced symptoms of depression when they last felt lonely, with 16% saying it also leads to feelings of anxiety. This equates to around 120,000 older Scots who could be living with undiagnosed depression.
Once diagnosed, many find it hard to get the right treatment for their mental health condition. When looking at depression, a study published in the BMC found that, in their sample, anti-depressants were not much more effective than placebo treatments. Those who do find the medication to be effective can sometimes have trouble when it comes to the cessation of treatment. Research published in The Guardian found that four million people are long-term users of anti-depressants.
Revolutionary new mental health treatment
With a surge in the innovation of medtech in the past decade, new ways of treating mental health are constantly being introduced. One of these is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS has been approved by the National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE) and uses the same magnetic pulses that are used in MRI machines to treat a range of conditions including anxiety, depression and addiction by increasing or decreasing activity in the relevant brain areas.
Despite being relatively new, the treatment has proven to be very successful. Research by Smart TMS showed that 75% of those who suffered with depression and received TMS treatment showed a clinically significant reduction in the severity of their symptoms and for addiction it was found that TMS reduces alcohol cravings by 60% after two weeks and that 73% of Smart TMS patients who were being treated for cocaine addiction had zero cravings at the end of treatment.
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