How Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation offers Relief for Addicts suffering from Depression
When it comes to addiction there is often a close relationship with depression. In fact, the two are co-occurring in a high percentage of individuals—those who suffer from both conditions—although it is difficult to pinpoint which came first, the depression or the addiction.
For example, addiction in itself leads to highly destructive forces in a person’s life, and the outcomes (losing a job, a relationship, health, money) can lead to feelings of despair and depression. Indeed, the drug itself can be a depressant, such as alcohol or barbiturates. Other drugs that may temporarily elevate mood, such as cocaine, will cause the user to experience a crash into depression after the mood-enhancing affects wear off.
On the other hand, someone who is chronically depressed may turn to substance abuse as a means of alleviating the suffering and anguish they experience by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Regardless of which is the primary condition, these two mental health disorders feed off each other with devastating results.
TMS as an Adjunct Therapeutic Treatment
Addiction and mental health treatment professionals understand that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan in the battle to treat addiction or depression. What is effective for one individual may not be helpful to another. Both addiction and mental health disorders exist in a sea of gray, with no defined roadmap to sustained recovery.
Because of this reality, treatment professionals rely more and more on adjunct therapies, those modes of treating the disorder by means over and above the traditional clinical therapy and/or medication, to enhance the typical treatment regimen. Often traditional treatment protocols simply do not work, thus putting a patient at risk of relapse, suicide, or other negative outcomes. Why not enlist the growing arsenal of adjunct therapies, including deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS)?
How dTMS can Treat Addiction
Because depression and substance abuse are highly comorbid, dTMS is being identified as an effective treatment method that can actually alleviate the negative effects of both. Research published in the December 2015 edition of Neuroscience and headed by Dr. Antonello Bonci of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) studied a small group of cocaine addicts. The results showed that TMS treatments helped 70% of the participants lose their cravings for cocaine.
The researchers found, in viewing the behavior of rats that were addicted to cocaine, that there was very low-level brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with impulse control and decision-making. According to Bonci, these functions “were basically silenced in these rodents as a result of cocaine exposure.”
The researchers ultimately utilized the non-invasive TMS technique on a group of 32 cocaine-addicted patients at the University of Padova (Padua) Medical School in Italy, with the premise of attempting to stimulate that specific area of the brain. They found that after three months of treatments, 11 of the 16 patients who received TMS were able to kick the cocaine habit versus only 3 of the 16 who received the traditional psychotherapy and medication.
An earlier study showed that TMS helps with nicotine cravings and consumption, using a “figure 8” coil to stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Future study is needed to investigate using coils, such as the “H coil,” that allow for reaching deeper parts of the brain. One small study used the bilateral H coil stimulation of the prefrontal cortex in participants who were alcohol dependent with co-morbid depression. Results showed not only a reduction of alcohol cravings, but relief in depressive symptoms as well. A similar pilot study showed that high frequency TMS resulted in decreased alcohol intake in study participants.
How TMS Works
During a dTMS therapy session, an electromagnetic coil is positioned against the scalp where it painlessly delivers a repetitive magnetic pulse. The pulses then stimulate nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain targeting the Limbic System, the area responsible for mood. The magnetic pulses cause electrical charges to flow, causing neurons to fire up, stimulating them to heightened activity.
Treatment protocol for depression and co-occurring substance abuse calls for approximately five sessions per week over a 4-6 week period. dTMS is non-invasive and has very few side effects, if any. Patients are able to drive themselves home after the sessions and resume their normal daily activities.
Achieve TMS Can Help
The experienced clinical professionals at Achieve TMS offer hope to individuals who have not experienced relief from depression using traditional treatment methods, such as anti-depressants and psychotherapy. We invite you to contact us to discuss treatment options and to ask any questions you might have. Call us today for a free consultation at (877) 447-6503.