Everything You Should Know About Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a method most often employed to treat patients with depression when treatments, like antidepressant medications, haven’t been showing results. It is a noninvasive therapy that utilizes magnetic waves to stimulate the brain’s specific areas.
Procedure for TMS Therapy
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is usually provided in a healthcare provider’s facility. You will be required to stay awake during the treatment.
At the first appointment, your provider will locate the treatment spot, which is typically near the forehead, where they will place a magnetic coil. The coil will deliver a magnetic pulse that will stimulate the nerve cells in that area of the brain that is responsible for depression and mood control. Your doctor will also determine the appropriate magnetic waves’ intensity for your treatment remainder.
TMS therapy doesn’t include any painful method, but during the treatment, you’ll feel a tapping sensation and hear a sound of clicks on your head. However, using earplugs can reduce the noise. TMS Treatment typically lasts for 20–50 minutes, depending on your particular treatment requirements.
TMS therapy is performed five days a week for about five to six weeks. Then, the treatment is tapered off. Several patients start to notice lesser symptoms of depression within the first week of treatments, while others require two to three weeks of therapy to see improvements.
What Are the Advantages of TMS Therapy?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a therapy used to treat patients with depression who face continued symptoms, despite taking medications. However, results may vary from person to person; TMS improves symptoms of depression in approximately 50%–60% of people who take this treatment.
This therapy has also done wonders in the treatment of other mental and neurological health conditions, such as:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
For how long do the effects of TMS therapy last?
Depression is a complex mental condition. While most of us don’t know exactly the reason behind it, there are numerous factors that can become the reason for major depression. These include severe life stressors, genetic vulnerability, medical conditions, drug and alcohol use, and other related factors. Everyone’s life and experiences are different, and depression usually includes the factors that alter the way the human brain functions.
Because of the different factors that impact each person’s depression, there’s no right answer about how long the TMS therapy results will last. Most people who complete the full treatment course experience improvement in their mental condition for six months to one year or more. One study that was conducted to examine 12-month results for the patients who have completed TMS depression treatment shows that after a year, 68% had better symptoms, and 45% completely recovered.
These statistics provide tremendous hope for patients who suffer from stress and depression and have failed to find relief through psychotherapy and medication alone. In a few cases, TMS has proven effective when done along with the medication.
When performing a patient assessment for TMS, the evaluation purpose is to authenticate the diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression and discover whether the intervention of TMS can be employed safely. The assessment includes a psychiatric history examination, mental status, physical health, and general medical history with an emphasis on depressive symptoms. This includes preexisting neurologic diseases such as intracranial masses, epilepsy, vascular abnormalities, or seizure risk factors.
TMS therapy is contraindicated in people with: implanted metallic hardware (bullet fragments, aneurysm clips, etc.), increased risks for seizures, implanted electrical devices (medication pumps, pacemakers, intra-cardiac lines, etc.), unstable general medical disorders, and cochlear implants.
TMS treatment for depression
During TMS therapy for depression, the psychologist should focus on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This brain part is responsible for different cognitive processes, including mood regulation, conflict management, and memory.
People with depression, however, often have dysregulated moods. As a result of this dysregulation, people may find it difficult to manage their emotions, make decisions, or think clearly.
Researchers suggest stimulating this brain area with magnetic pulses alters how nerve cells fire. As a result, it may alleviate a few symptoms linked with depression.
Moreover, stimulation of the left and right brain sides can differently impact the brain. Researchers believe low-frequency stimulation on the right side reduces depression more effectively than high-frequency stimulation on the left.
Even though TMS generally works well, its antidepressant effects can fade over time.
According to a 2018 review, 50% of patients responded to TMS 1 year after their first treatment, but more research is needed to determine how effective it is in the longer run.
Is TMS right for you?
TMS is effective, safe, and can be a beacon of light and hope for patients with depression, but this therapy is not made for everyone. Contraindications for TMS treatment include metal plates in your head, having a pacemaker, a history of epilepsy, spinal or bladder stimulators, or anerium clips. During the evaluation, the healthcare provider will review your health history and the symptoms before determining the right depression relief treatments for you.
Want to know more about TMS and electrotherapy for depression? Get in touch with lifeline psychiatry today.
We provide psychiatric evaluation and treatment for various mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Autistic Disorder, ADHD, Tourette’s Disorder, and Substance use disorders.
Get in touch with us at (770) 458-0447 to know more about our TMS and ECT Mental Health Services.