Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is a revolutionary treatment for depression. As such, news is rapidly spreading about the use of TMS therapy to help people manage their depression symptoms, and research into this depression treatment is ongoing.
TMS has been proven to be beneficial for depression patients who are seeking an alternative to antidepressant medications and/or psychotherapy, or for an additional therapy to complement these treatments. To understand how TMS benefits patients coping with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other mood disorders, let’s examine the treatment in detail.
What Is TMS Treatment, and How Does It Work?
TMS therapy involves the use of a covered magnetic coil that is strategically placed on a depression patient’s head. The coil generates a magnetic field that passes through the patient’s skull. When this happens, the coil stimulates neurons in the parts of the brain responsible for mood, causing them to fire. These neural regions become more active over the course of treatment, and this helps to alleviate depression symptoms.
A TMS therapy device transmits magnetic pulses into a patient’s brain for approximately 20 minutes per session. These pulses help release serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
TMS therapy sessions are generally completed as part of a program that takes six weeks to finish, and there are usually five sessions per week. Cortical mapping of the brain is done during the course of a TMS treatment program to ensure that the most optimal treatment location is targeted for each individual. Every patient undergoes re-mapping during TMS treatment to help ensure that therapy sessions deliver the greatest possible results.
The future of TMS therapy appears promising. As TMS treatment has evolved over the years, advancements have taken place to establish it as a safe, effective choice for many patients dealing with depression.
A Closer Look at the History of TMS Treatment
The history of TMS treatment dates back to the late 1700’s, when researchers found that nerves serve as electric conductors. Researchers also discovered at this time that nerves play key roles in muscle contraction.
Initial work on TMS therapy started in the United Kingdom in 1976, and researchers found that certain nerves stimulate short magnetic pulses. In 1985, Anthony Barker, a medical physics and clinical engineering expert, and his team at The University of Sheffield created a device that could stimulate the brain’s cerebral cortex. The machine used electromagnets to help minimize pain typically caused by shocks and seizures. Since that time, more than 3,500 papers have been published on the use of TMS therapy to help treat depression, autism, PTSD, and other mood disorders.
In a study published in July 2012 in Depression and Anxiety, Dr. Linda Carpenter and her team at Butler Hospital found TMS therapy helped patients coping with treatment-resistant depression as well. Carpenter and her team analyzed clinicians’ ratings of TMS response, along with patient self-reporting based on standard depression scales. They found that TMS delivered a 58% positive response rate and 37% remission rate.
What Are the Benefits of TMS Treatment for Depression?
In addition to providing an option to help people dealing with treatment-resistant depression, TMS therapy does not cause harmful side effects, and causes only minimal discomfort for some patients. Some patients report slight headaches as a result of TMS that typically resolve after the first week of treatment, and some patients report no discomfort at all during or after a TMS therapy session.
A TMS therapy session only requires about 20 minutes to complete. After the session is done, a patient can resume his or her normal daily activities.TMS therapy does not require the use of electric shocks, anesthesia, or medications, which is sometimes the case with other treatments for depression.
How Does TMS Compare to Other Depression Treatments?
TMS therapy is often usedas an alternative to other depression treatments, but it may also be used in combination with other treatments such as medication and therapy.
In comparison to antidepressants and other depression medications, TMS therapy side effects are minimal. Whereas depression medications may sometimes cause nausea, weight gain, and other side effects, TMS therapy has not been linked to these side effects.
Meanwhile, for patients who use psychotherapy to help develop coping strategies for depression symptoms, TMS therapy may be a suitable complementary treatment. Together, the use of psychotherapy and TMS therapy may help a depression patient enhance his or her mood and learn techniques to cope with depression symptoms.
Is TMS Invasive?
TMS therapy is not invasive. Each TMS therapy session is performed in a doctor’s office, where the patient sits in a comfortable seat as the TMS device is placed on the head. The device then gently delivers magnetic pulses to the brain for about 20 minutes. The patient can relax and read, watch television, or chat with their TMS technician during treatment, and they can immediately resume normal activities when the session is over. Finally, TMS is not painful, and does not cause side effects commonly caused by antidepressant medications.
Treating depression symptoms with antidepressants and/or psychotherapy is common. For patients who do not achieve the desired results with antidepressants and/or psychotherapy, TMS therapy for depression may be a great alternative or complement to these treatments.
If you have tried antidepressants and/or psychotherapy but find that treatment is ineffective or not as effective as you would like, TMS therapy may be beneficial. At Achieve TMS, we are happy to evaluate a patient and find out if he or she qualifies for TMS treatment for depression. To learn more, please contact us online, or call us today at 877-296-4968.