How TMS can Rebalance Brain Chemistry and Treat Depression
What an amazing and mysterious organ the brain is. With its 86 billion neurons—those cells that act as a telephone in tandem with the neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that act as the phone line—it is no wonder that with all these messages buzzing along our neural pathways maybe some will get out of whack.
The neurotransmitters that are most closely aligned with mood regulation, decision-making, and impulse control are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. It is estimated that 86% of Americans have neurotransmitter levels that are underactive or overactive, wreaking havoc on our state of wellbeing. Many factors play a role in these imbalances, such as genetic brain chemistry, diet, chronic stress, environmental factors, caffeine, but much of what causes brain chemistry imbalance is simply a mystery. Regardless of the cause, anything that interrupts the smooth communication system in this chemical chain can negatively impact both the brain and the nervous system.
Depression is associated with brain chemistry imbalance, where some areas within the prefrontal cortex are underactive and some are overactive. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) has been shown to be very effective in activating the brain cells. dTMS uses repetitive magnetic pulses, causing electrical charges within the brain, to stimulate the specific area in the brain that is underactive. The therapeutic goal of dTMS therapy is to re-regulate the patient’s brain chemistry, relieving them of the depressive symptoms.
History of Brain Stimulation Therapy
The concept of brain stimulation therapy for the treatment of depression is not new. One of the oldest forms of brain stimulation treatment, dating back to 1938, is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which used electrical currents via electrodes placed on the scalp to treat major mental illness. This treatment requires general anesthesia, and often results in mental confusion and memory loss.
Enter TMS, first developed in the mid 1980s and approved for use in the U.S. in 2008. Imagine the excitement around this non-invasive treatment for major depression that requires no sedation and causes only minor side effects, if any. The benefit of TMS over earlier forms of brain stimulation is its ability to specifically target the area needing manipulation, TMS is a kinder, gentler form of brain stimulation, offering individuals who have not responded to the traditional treatments for depression, such as anti-depressants and psychotherapy, an effective therapeutic option.
Recent Study shows TMS Effective
A study out of the University of Nottingham in the U.K. examined the efficacy of using TMS to reset unhealthy brain activity in 32 study participants, 16 who were healthy and 16 who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder. According to the lead scientist, Sarina Iwabuchi, “We found that one session of TMS modifies the connectivity of large-scale brain networks, particularly the right anterior insula, which is a key area in depression.”
Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to analyze the study participants’ brain chemistry, the scientists could see how TMS alters concentrations of neurotransmitters. These, states Iwabushi, “are considered important for the development of depression.”
The study showed how by delivering the powerful magnetic pulses directly to the region in the brain associated with mood that the TMS actually slowed the activity in this region in the group with diagnosed depression. Again, some of the transmitters are underactive and some are overactive in depressed patients. TMS can rebalance the brain chemistry.
At Achieve TMS our mission is to provide hope for people who battle the debilitating effects of depression, those who have already tried medication and psychotherapy but have not experienced relief. Our experts are here to answer any questions related to dTMS therapy so you will have absolute confidence in what you can expect during the therapeutic sessions. Call us today at (866) 224-4054.