Transcranial magnetic
stimulation therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique that uses electromagnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in your brain. TMS has been proven effective on patients who have not responded well to other depression treatments, and it's typically used as an alternative when all else fails. In 2008, the FDA approved TMS as a result of its success with these patients. If you are interested to know the details about the treatment process, read on...


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How does TMS work

When TMS is applied to the brain, it stimulates the cells in the depression-related regions of your head. This stimulation activates these underactive areas and effectively combats mood disorders like chronic sadness or loss of interest in most activities.

The repetitive electrical impulses are used in TMS treatment. Therefore it is also known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). These terms are often used interchangeably, and I think it’s because they have the same abbreviation. During an rTMS session, a person lies down and places their head in the center of this device. The electromagnetic coil is attached to your skin on top of your forehead with tape or gel then activated internally by pressing buttons. This sends pulses through the magnetic field that stimulates nerve cells in regions that regulate moods and depression levels- it's thought to increase dopamine release, which leads to improved feelings of well-being among those suffering from symptoms associated with low activity areas.

How TMS therapy is performed

The therapy is performed by a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) physician, and it is an outpatient treatment procedure. It is either done in a clinic or a hospital under the supervision of specialists.

  • One of the most important things to do before a TMS procedure, remove any jewelry that could be sensitive to magnets. When you arrive for your appointment, please take off all jewelry and other items such as watches or fitness trackers, etc.
  • The technician in the treatment room will ask you to wear earplugs, which is necessary to minimize the clicking sound of magnetic impulses. They'll strap your head down so that it's immobilized and comfortably reclined in a chair with arms as if they were going to take an MRI scan, but without any need for general anesthesia or sedatives - which means you can stay awake throughout the treatment.
  • Your first TMS session includes a step where your technician will measure the size of your head. The TMS technician will also do other measurements to figure out where they should place a magnetic coil and other measurements that personalize settings on the TMS machine.
  • Next, they’ll place the coil over your forehead and start treatment. You will hear a clicking sound as magnetic impulses are released. Your technician may also tap on you with their hand or push gently against your head to adjust where the coils are positioned for optimal results while performing this procedure, which usually takes 30-60 minutes depending on how much of the brain needs treating at once and what type of equipment it requires.
  • A recent study found that many of their patients responded best to a treatment plan which consisted of 5 days per week for 4-6 weeks. The exact length depends on your response and specific condition, but it has been proven effective in helping people recover from drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, or anxiety disorders.

Effectiveness of TMS

TMS is a successful form of treatment for people who have struggled with depression and medications. Approximately 50% - 60% of the test subjects experienced at least some relief from their symptoms, giving them hope that life will get better. One-third went on to experience full remission, meaning they no longer need medication or any other forms of therapy so long as they stay healthy in future years because TMS is not permanent, which means there are chances it could relapse again when you're older if your brain chemistry changes down the road due to aging or something else like stress level change causing an imbalance in neurotransmitters naturally occurring within our brains over time without external influence such as drugs slowing this process.

However, some patients continued to experience the result for months after their last treatment. The average length of response is a little more than one year and the time it takes to regain their sense of normality varies from person to person. Some choose to come back for subsequent rounds if they do not respond in this first round with TMS therapy, or ECT may still be effective and worth considering as an alternative form of treatment when no other options have been successful yet.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment has the possibility to transform into a new treatment for neurological disorders as well as pain management and physical rehabilitation. Many clinical trials are currently looking at its effectiveness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, pediatric depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc. TMS is showing promise as a treatment for many conditions in European countries, including anxiety disorders. It has also been effective in stroke rehabilitation after an event of injury or trauma, depression from chronic pain relief, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by improving cognitive function on the prefrontal cortex area, Parkinson's Disease (PD), Schizophrenia, and Nicotine addiction. Moreover, TMS has also shown positive results in the off-label treatment of some diseases such as Tourette syndrome, fibromyalgia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and tinnitus.

Possible risks and side effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation

Repetitive TMS is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation that has been proven effective for treating depression. Unlike deep brain and vagus nerve stimulation, which both require surgery or implants to administer, rTMS does not pull any needles either. This means it can be administered without sedation medication, making it an easier alternative than electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in many cases.

However, in rare cases, mild headaches may occur that can sometimes last even after the stimulation has stopped. You may find yourself feeling lightheaded or experiencing neck pain after your session. Scalp pain, neck pain, tingling sensation, facial twitching, sleepiness, and altered cognition during sessions may also occur.

Who should avoid getting rTMS therapy?

When TMS is not an ideal treatment, it's often because the patient has epilepsy or a history of seizures. Sensitive to magnets and metal, these people cannot take advantage of the benefits of getting this type of therapy. There is one exception: if they have braces on their teeth or fillings in their mouth, there might be no issue for them as long as they don't need work. Metal objects that prohibit the TMS treatment are; aneurism clips, deep brain stimulators, facial tattoos with metallic ink, neck or back stents, permanent piercings, cochlear implants, and shrapnel or bullet fragments. Pacemakers and metal ear/eye implants could also be a problem in TMS therapy.

The presence of another mental health disorder, such as substance abuse or psychosis, is not suitable for TMS therapy. You may also not qualify for TMS therapy if you have a history of epilepsy or seizures, substance misuse, taking stimulants, brain damage from illness, or injury (such as traumatic brain injuries, tumors, stroke).

Take Away

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been shown to produce changes in neuronal activity in regions of the brain implicated in mood regulation, such as the prefrontal cortex. If you’ve felt that there's no end-all solution for your depression symptoms and medications aren't working out - rTMS treatment could be a big help! It is also safe if administered by a qualified professional with low-risk factors like seizures or experiencing relief from antidepressants over time. Moreover, for young individuals who are not susceptible to seizures and suffer from major depression, rTMS treatment can be safe and appropriate for you.

TMS may become a welcome new treatment for those struggling with depression, anxiety, or any number of mental health disorders, including OCD and PTSD. The procedure has been shown to alleviate symptoms in patients and improve motor function for people living with Parkinson’s disease and stroke victims alike by stimulating the brain cells that affect emotional processing.

In short, talk with your doctor today about whether this treatment might work well for you too!

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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy