There have been numerous clinical studies conducted to assess the efficacy of deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – or dTMS – as a viable treatment for major depression and more recently data was submitted to the FDA demonstrating high efficacy in using deep TMS for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). As a result, the FDA approved use of dTMS for OCD treatment in Summer 2018.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation involves the use of magnetic pulses to target specific areas of the brain that have been implicated in specific conditions. With major depression and OCD we are stimulating a specific area or areas of the brain to impact natural cell activity. Deep TMS affords both physicians and patients with several advantages:
- It is possible to achieve deep penetration of the affected areas of the brain
- It is possible to stimulate large areas of the brain
- There is no requirement for hospitalization or anesthesia
- Side effects are negligible
- Treatment costs are covered by most major insurance carriers
As of FDA approval, this form of treatment had already been gaining popularity in Europe. With 40-60% of OCD sufferers not responding to conventional treatment, the need for new approaches was clear. European studies of dTMS and OCD revealed that almost 30% of participants experienced a reduction in symptoms following dTMS treatment. This positive effect was also found to last beyond the treatment stages.
A 2018 study explored the effects of dTMS on OCD. It found that OCD sufferers exhibited a reduction in symptoms after receiving the treatment, as compared to those in the control group. Not only were there significant improvements noted, but the positive results were also found to last beyond the treatment regimen. Participants in the study did not report any major side effects of the treatment – the greatest complaint was that of a transitory headache. As a result of this study, the FDA approved dTMS for the treatment of OCD in America.
As data regarding the efficacy of dTMS is being accumulated, more disorders are being studied using this therapy. Currently, for example, the opioid epidemic is being explored in the context of dTMS therapy. Brainsway, manufacturer of the dTMS device – is assessing deep TMS as a viable treatment option for opioid addiction.