How Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS Help My Depression?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a therapy, covered by insurance, that uses magnetic fields to stimulate activity in a depressed brain. These magnetic fields will stimulate nerve cells in your brain and are applied through non-invasive methods. The stimulation improves symptoms of depression. TMS is generally used when other treatments for depression have failed. This method of treatment delivers repetitive magnetic pulses; this has earned it the name of repetitive TMS or TMS when identifying the method.
How Does TMS Work?
During treatment of TMS, you will have an electromagnetic coil placed against your scalp, close to your forehead. The electromagnet causes no pain to you but is able to deliver a magnetic pulse that will stimulate your brain nerve cells. The region targeted is the one involved with depression and mood control. The TMS is designed to activate regions in your brain that have decreased activity in depression.
How TMS works is not fully understood. The invigoration of the magnetic pulses appears to impact how your brain works and seems to decrease depression symptoms and improve moods. There are different techniques and procedures used in TMS, and as experts learn more about it, they may change to improve the effectiveness of the treatments.
What You Can Expect During a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment
The TMS is performed by a TMS technician or physician. The procedure is done as an outpatient treatment and is often done in a medical clinic. Before beginning the treatment, you will be asked to remove any items that are sensitive to magnets, such as jewelry.
During the TMS procedure:
- Your physician or technician will provide you with a pair of earplugs to lessen the sound of clicking during the magnetic pulses. There is no anesthesia needed, and you will remain awake during the complete treatment.
- The first session involves having your head measured to learn where to place the magnetic coil. Other measurements may also be needed to personalize the settings on the TMS machine.
- Your physician or technician will put the coil above the front area of your brain. The treatment is then started.
- As the magnetic pulses are released, you will hear some clicking sounds. You may also experience knocking or tapping sensations under the magnetic coil.
- The Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment can last from five to sixty minutes depending on which FDA-approved device is used during treatment. There are minimal side effects from the treatment, and you will be allowed to drive and resume your daily activities after it is completed.
- Treatments are repeated five days a week for approximately four to six weeks. The exact length of treatments will depend on your specific condition, the approved treatment protocols, and your response to the treatments.
Benefits of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatments
While research is still being conducted on the benefits of TMS, there are several that have already been identified. The most significant benefit is its treatment for major depressive disorder. The procedure is recommended for those who have not found relief from standard medications and psychotherapy. The name for this disorder is treatment-resistant depression and affects more than thirty percent of people with depression.
TMS has also been effective in treating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder.) The procedure has been used to inhibit the activity in the region of the brain between the prefrontal cortex and striatum. The treatment inhibits the activity in this region and reduces OCD symptoms.
TMS can also treat other psychological disorders, such as anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Other treatments with TMS include stroke rehabilitation, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain, and more.
When suffering from depression, your physician may suggest psychotherapy or antidepressants. If these do not work, you should look into the benefits of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
Learn More About Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Treat Your Depression
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