Mental health conditions affect the overall well-being of a person. They come in different types and severity. One in 25 Americans live with serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and major depression.
While medication and psychotherapy can treat these conditions, they do not always work for all patients. Some say they don’t get relief from the first antidepressants they take.
Individuals who don’t see improvement in their condition may try transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy for depression.
What is TMS therapy?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that aims to regulate the patient’s emotions. This type of brain stimulation emits repetitive magnetic energy pulses at specific areas of the brain that control one’s mood.
Patients remain awake and alert during the treatments, seated in a chair, while a doctor or a nurse puts on the device against their scalp. The magnetic energy produced by the machine goes through the patient’s skull painlessly to stimulate brain cells.
The stimulation done by TMS enhances the interaction of the different regions of the brain. It creates a promising effect on brain functions, easing depressive emotions and boosting the patient’s mood.
This treatment can be used in conjunction with certain antidepressant medications for better results.
What is TMS therapy used for?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is commonly used for the treatment of major depressive disorders.
Although depression can be addressed using standard treatments like medications, sometimes they aren’t as effective. In this case, TMS therapy for depression is something worth considering.
TMS can also treat anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stroke rehabilitation, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, nicotine addiction, migraine headaches, and other types of chronic pain.
Before starting your TMS journey, it would be helpful to read about the pros and cons of TMS therapy. Here are some things to ponder when deciding if TMS is the right option for you.
Pros of a TMS Therapy
It doesn’t cause memory loss
TMS procedure has been evaluated systematically to determine its effects on cognitive functions. Results show that compared to electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, TMS therapy doesn’t affect one’s memory. Some patients even see improvements in mood, brain memory, and concentration after several sessions.
It doesn’t interact with other medications
TMS therapy doesn’t have known negative interactions with any medications. Undergoing this treatment will still allow you to continue taking your current drug dosage without having to make any abrupt changes.
Lesser chance of relapse
Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy provides a meaningful result, even after the treatment is over. Studies show that TMS benefits last for at least a year for most people. This is in comparison with medications, where one needs to take indefinitely to prevent relapse.
Minimal side effects
TMS is a non-invasive, targeted treatment that is less risky than any antidepressant. Taking medications may cause systemic reactions to the body. This leads to a range of side effects such as weight gain, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, memory loss, insomnia, and apathy.
TMS therapy, on the other hand, may bring side effects but are tolerable. Some TMS therapy side effects include minor headache, lightheadedness, and scalp discomfort during stimulation.
These effects don’t last for very long, though – just a few minutes after the session finishes.
Cons of a TMS Therapy
Before undergoing TMS therapy for depression, you should be aware of any precautions or contraindications associated with TMS. You must consult with your doctor first to know if this procedure will be best for you, especially if:
- You are pregnant
- You’re taking any medications (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, and supplements)
- You have brain damage
- You’ve had a history of seizure
- You have other medical conditions
- You have metal implants, bullet fragments, or aneurysm clips near your head or neck area.
TMS has undergone several studies, but there is no clear consensus on its exact procedures. There are no set guidelines for the stimulation parameters, targeted brain areas, and treatment length. It varies depending on the clinic or treatment center.
Potential side effects
TMS depression treatment side effects include headaches, drowsiness, lightheadedness, scalp pain, neck pain, tingling, and facial muscle tension.
There’s also the risk of epileptic seizures, but that is rare. There’s only a 0.1 percent risk of developing seizure attacks throughout the course of therapy.
How a TMS Therapy Can Heal your Depression
Depression is a mental health condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and functions. If not treated right away, this may lead to behavioral and physical symptoms that could impair one’s life.
While many people find relief through self-help, therapy, medication, or a combination of these treatments, the feeling of hopelessness never goes away for others.
People suffering from major depression that is resistant to standard treatments may consider transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy. It works just like an antidepressant medication, stimulating your brain chemically but through magnetic fields.
It is not clear how TMS acts on the brain. However, a theory states that the stimulation done in the left frontal lobe spreads into the brain’s deeper areas that regulate mood. When done repeatedly, it can stabilize the neuronal circuits involved in depression.
Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy Work?
Roughly 50% to 60% of people with depression who don’t respond well to medications have shown positive responses to TMS. Some of them experience a complete remission, which means the symptoms have disappeared altogether.
While these results are encouraging, they are not conclusive. There is still a high recurrence rate, as with other treatments for mood disorders.
However, most TMS patients feel better for many months after treatment is stopped, with the typical length of response lasting for more than a year.
TMS Treatment in California
TMS therapy is primarily safe and effective in alleviating symptoms of depression. If you haven’t been getting relief from antidepressants and have a low risk of seizures, you may benefit from undergoing transcranial magnetic stimulation. Roots TMS is committed to bringing the latest technology to our patients. We offer TMS treatment to help treat depression and other mental health conditions. Get in touch with us today at 562-352-2035 to learn more about the said procedure.