Over the past few years, there are several studies indicating the efficacy of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS as an alternative depression treatment.
Researchers at Butler Hospital along with the collaboration of different clinics in the US confirmed the efficacy of TMS treatment for patients with depression who were unsuccessful on their antidepressant medications. Their finding is one of many first studies who delved into the use of TMS treatment. It was published on June 11, 2012 edition of Depression and Anxiety in the Wiley Online Library.
How did TMS Start?
Anthony Baker introduced TMS in 1985 at the University of Sheffield in England. It was intended as a neurodiagnostic tool used to produce an evoked potential in muscle tissue by activating neurons in the motor cortex. The whole concept of TMS was based on the two basic principles of physics; Faraday’s principle of electromagnetic induction and Ampere’s law.
Faraday’s principle involves the use of electromagnetic induction and that voltage can be measured and changed when generated across a length of wire – if the wire was left exposed to a perpendicular magnetic field flux of alternating intensity. Also, Ampere’s law state that the magnetic field can be managed around an electric current is proportional to the electric current.
TMS principle revolves around this principle. The stimulation coil consists of several wire loops encased in an insulating material. According to Kobayashi M, Pascual-Leone A. in Transcranial magnetic stimulation in neurology, “If a pulse of current is passed through this coil and placed over a person’s head, it produces rapidly changing magnetic pulses that penetrate the scalp and skull and reach the brain with minimal attenuation.”
Because of this, TMS can emit rapid and powerful but painless magnetic field that stimulates brain nerve cells. In doing so, it activates inactive region in the brain associated with depression.
Since its introduction in 1985, TMS had been studied as an alternative treatment for various mental disorders. Several studies show that TMS can be an effective treatment for major depression, Tourette syndrome, reducing auditory hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There a lot of evidence showing the efficacy of TMS in psychiatry.
Another Form of Electromagnetic Treatment
However, TMS was not the first treatment introduced that uses electromagnetic pulses. It was Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) that was first used in 1938 which also show the significant result in treating major depression. Unfortunately, ECT uses an invasive method like anesthesia which resulted in severe side effects. It soon loses its popularity amongst patients with depressive disorders.
ECT remains one of the most controversial forms of treatment in the entire field medical science. It’s a love and hate relationships. But one film stands out in providing a wide range of people about the use ECT. The film “One Flew over Cuckoo’s Nest”, shows how crude treatment method ECT can get. Even though ECT can also effectively treat depressive symptoms, there has been a steady decline of its use in clinical psychiatry clinics.
A Safer Treatment Method
About 16.1 million people suffer from depressive disorders across the US. Depression is a serious illness affecting 350 million people worldwide; it’s becoming the largest health problem in the world. The medical community had developed medications and treatment plan to help manage its symptoms but there are patients who do not respond positively to these. Using medications often entails adverse side effects like tolerance and drug addiction.
The approval of FDA for TMS had cleared the TMS brain-stimulating device for treating depressive disorder to patients where antidepressant has failed to work. TMS brings new hope and vitality to patients and their families wherein it shows better results than the conventional treatment plan. It has far lesser and fewer side effects, some does not even experience and adverse reaction to TMS procedure.
TMS procedure shows its efficacy to over 24,000 people suffering from depressive disorder. About 1 out of 3 people have experienced complete remission from depression. While 50% of patients reported having significant reductions in their symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association also supports the use of TMS for patients who develop tolerance over their antidepressant medications. They suggest that medical professionals should consider TMS as a form of treatment rather than changing from one antidepressant to the other. Using antidepressant medications often lead to drug addiction.
One study conducted by Garcia-Toro M, Mayol A, Arnillas H, et al in their book entitled “Modest adjunctive benefit with transcranial magnetic stimulation in medication-resistant depression” shows that TMS can treat depression symptoms as effectively as any antidepressant medications.
Chronic or severe pain can range from mild to excruciating, felt in brief moments, be gradual in pain, or reside in a continuous manner or in episodic attacks. This pain can usually last more than 6 months, depending on its cause. Also, chronic pain can physically affect a person, their mood, performance at work or school, and even their intellectual and cognitive functions.
Chronic pain is one of many medical mysteries known to man. Doctors have their own limitations in treating this chronic pain, its effective treatment and different kinds of dilemmas. Chronic pain can result in other different disorders like anxieties, worries, depression and poor cognitive performance.
Pain is one harsh sensation that can happen to a person. Commonly experience inside body tissues, but most studies revealed that chronic pain affects the lower back pain, neck pain, stomach, head, pelvic and other areas of the body. But with a proper psycho-physiological assessment, pain can significantly improve even be eliminated.
Unfortunately, many people suffering from chronic pain don’t have any idea how to address their suffering. Not all conventional treatment to chronic pain can benefit everyone. Prescription medications that contain opioids commonly lead to drug addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Signs and symptoms of chronic pain vary for everyone. Chronic pain has certain kinds of severity and source which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat. However, some signs and manifestations are as follows: continuous pain, from cute to chronic pain, an electrical sensation, aches, intellectual disorders like low self-confidence, easy to anger, stress, worries, anxieties and many more.
Causes or Triggers of Chronic pain
There is no single specific factor that cause chronic pain. But there are certain factors that can trigger the disorder such as cases of infection, injury, and different illnesses.
Treating chronic pain includes taking medicines for the routine relief; doctors for surgery or operation can prescribe medications for a certain medical procedure. Some include alternative therapies like acupuncture and other traditional practices. But chronic pain treatment will depend to a certain extent on its cause.
Sadly, long-term use of these conventional treatments often leads to drug tolerance and drug addiction. As the rise of chronic pain disorders among people across the globe, the need for a safe and alternative treatment increases.
TMS for Chronic Pain
About 20 years ago, scientists develop Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a safe and alternative treatment for major depression. Due to its success, experts continue to stretch its parameters for treating other kinds of disorders.
Today, TMS could offer patients suffering from chronic pain their long waited relief from the discomfort. TMS can work directly on regions of the brain associated with pain. It can provide a non-invasive and non-systemic approach, avoiding adverse side effects associated with pain medication drugs.
Some painful sensation responds accordingly to antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioid agonists. But these drugs also carry deadly side effects. So there is still a growing need for a safe and effective therapeutic option.
Fortunately, TMS provides effective and fast relief of chronic pain using electromagnetic waves targeting the brain cells associated with pain. It’s an affordable and simple procedure and it gives no dangerous side effects to the body. TMS uses magnetic stimulation of brain nerve cells that are related to chronic pain. These waves can modulate cortical excitability and at the same time inhibit pain perception in the brain. This method can significantly improve symptoms of chronic pain in patients.
The TMS machine uses a coil placed near on top of the head to stimulate the cortical regions of the brain. This strategic location along with the correct threshold can effectively stimulate brain cells. The procedure is safe and does not elicit adverse effects. Some TMS clinics use H-coils and used to stimulate the lower-limb motor cortex, an area in the brain tucked deep within the medial longitudinal fissure that controls motor skills. One study shows that deep TMS has significant results to patients suffering from diabetic neuropathic pain. Experts saw improvement in relieving chronic pain symptoms in these patients.
As a non-invasive procedure, it does not need any hospitalization or anesthesia. Most of its side effects are well tolerated and diminishes over time as treatment session continues. Treatments usually take place inside the doctor’s office and patients are kept wide awake. TMS does not require any anesthesia or similar drugs; patients can easily go back to their normal daily routine after each session. This makes TMS as an ideal treatment option for patients with a strict schedule to follow.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or simply known as TMS is a non-invasive, non-systemic procedure that stimulates brain nerve cells to treat Major Depressive Disorders. Generating magnetic waves similar to an MRI, TMS therapy is safe to use for everyone. This painless electromagnetic pulsed emits magnetic fields in specific parts of the brain associated with mood and behaviors.
Magnetic waves can reach into deeper parts of the brain without the use of pharmaceuticals or surgeries. TMS therapy is usually done inside the doctor’s office for about 30 to 45 minutes over a period of 4 to 6 weeks of treatment sessions. Since it does not require any surgeries, anesthesia, and hospitalization, patients can immediately go back to their daily lives following each treatment sessions.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS as a safe and effective treatment for depressive disorders in 2008. This painless procedure was given a nod to treat patients with resistant depression symptoms when all antidepressant treatments have failed.
How Does TMS Work?
Majority of people suffering from depression failed to respond with the conventional medications and psychotherapies. Experts believed the region in the brain near the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex tends to be underactive while some parts of the brain remain overactive. This creates chemical imbalances within the brain structures causing some of the most common depressive symptoms. The electromagnetic pulses that TMS machine produce can penetrate deep into the brain that activates inactive brain cells while suppressing other brain regions without the use of medications and surgeries. TMS therapy is a safe and effective treatment option to stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and treat depressive symptoms.
During a TMS procedure, health care providers placed an insulated magnetic coil over the head of the patient. It then emits magnetic pulses that stimulate brain neurons; it’s painless yet effective method of treating depression. As a non-invasive and non-systemic method, patients can immediately go on with their daily activities following the treatment session.
Why is TMS so effective?
TMS consistently produce positive changes in neuronal activity in regions of the brain often linked in mood regulation. As the magnetic waves pass through the skull painlessly and into the brain, this triggers the brief activity of brain cells directly underneath the treatment coil. Health care providers monitor the frequency and the threshold of magnetic waves as it directly influences brain activity during TMS treatment sessions. Some recent studies suggest that stimulating the left or the right sides of the brain can have opposite effects on mood regulation. That is why all patients needing TMS treatment undergoes strict and thorough medical assessment to fully identify their particular need.
When is TMS therapy recommended?
Antidepressant medications and psychotherapy remain as the first line of treatments for Major Depressive Disorders. Unfortunately, the majority of patients failed to respond accordingly to these conventional treatment methods. If patients failed several times using pharmaceuticals, then doctors may recommend TMS therapy or to combine antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. Also, patients to who cannot tolerate medications might also consider undergoing TMS therapy.
But not everyone can undergo TMS therapy, as the machine functions like an MRI, patients with metallic implants, pacemakers, bullet fragments and the likes are prohibited from using TMS. This can interfere with such metals and may cause adverse side effects.
Who will benefit the most from TMS therapy?
Numerous research and clinical data show that patients with resistant to conventional medications respond better to TMS than others. Since TMS is a simple procedure, it does not involve the use of any pharmaceuticals that are known to have severe side effects like weight gain, irritability, sleep problems, digestive problems, and sexual dysfunctions. Patients undergo TMS therapy in a very comfortable clinical setup without the stress of having these problems.
How long does it take to see results from TMS?
Each person has their own genetic make-up, the response time from TMS therapy varies from one patient to another. Some patients reported to feel a lot better than the others; they claim to experience relief within the first week of a therapy session. In some instances, patients will notice a big difference in their symptoms within the 4th week of treatment. This huge improvement has a lasting effect on the patient, the majority of patients claim that they can function better without worrying about relapses.
However, if TMS works slowly for others it does not mean it’s not effective, some people just take a little more time to readjust the brain and create new neural pathways. But the effects are the same; it relieves depression even for patients with treatment-resistant disorders.
A lot of people walk through life battling depression on their own. Some people can hide their depression concealing behind their “happy face” facade, which only makes symptoms worse. People with hidden depression don’t want to admit the severity of their state of mind. They believe their depressive feelings will just go away on their own. In rare cases, it might work. But for most people, depression will drag them deeper into a realm of sadness and loneliness.
Depression often goes undiagnosed, unrecognized, and unseen. According to a study, at least 1 out of 20 Americans suffers from depressive symptoms with the highest rate of incidence being in people from 40 to 59 years of age.
Society often prevents us from talking more about our true feelings. Many of us were brought up not to talk about our emotions, and sometimes it is considered taboo to even mention ongoing, uncontrolled depression. People suffering from hidden depression are expected to deal with their state of mind in a way that it doesn’t make them visible. It just takes a closer look or few minutes of observation to actually see what these people are trying to hide. If you or a loved one has these signs, you should seek depression treatment through TMS or some other means as soon as you can.
Signs of Hidden Depression
Hiding Behind a Smile
People dealing with depression force a happy face and always make excuses when someone noticed their change of behavior. It is important to know that the mental disorder is more than just a mood or phase. Sometimes they appear seemingly happy around their loved ones. It is like a mask that they wear from time to time, but it will eventually slip. Even for a brief moment, you can notice their loneliness when the conversation suddenly stops, or when they are being too honest. If it did, they will always find a quick excuse and readily available stories behind it. They always make excuses not to hang out, go out for a quick lunch or even spend some time.
Unusual Eating and Sleeping Habits
Sleeping pattern is a good indication of both good physical and mental health. When a person changed the way they sleep, most of the time it’s a sign that something is amiss. If a person sleeps for too long, or can’t sleep at all, it may be a sign of hidden depression.
Many turn to food or alcohol addiction to suppress their depressive feelings. Binge eating and/or overeating can make a depressed person feel full. They turn to food to feel good from inside and to feed their emotions. While alcohol can help them forget about their feelings of loneliness and sadness because of its intoxicating effect. In few cases, they may turn to abusing drugs, and the euphoric feeling it produces makes them feel happy. Sometimes they turn the other way – losing all interest in eating, drinking, and spending time with any family activities that they previously enjoyed.
Suicide Talk & Attempts and Joking About Death
A person who frequently mentions death or suicidal attempts is one of the most dangerous signs of severe depression. When someone suffers severely depressed suicidal thoughts and death become prominent. They lose interest in all facets of life, from eating, drinking, and getting out of bed seems a daunting task.
Concentration and Memory Problems
Depression affects an area of the brain associated with the cognitive function. Trouble concentrating, thinking and forgetfulness are symptoms of depression. People suffering from depression have these issues which can add up to their difficulties they need to face every day.
People hiding their depressive feelings feel emotions more intensely than most people. They are easily get carried away while watching a film or break out crying during a particularly sad scene. Others get angered easily about anything, a crying baby or when someone cuts their line in traffic. In keeping their depressive feelings in a box, other feelings leak out more easily. Increased irritability or anger all of the time is a red flag of hidden depression.
Quick to Physical Exhaustion or Pain
A study shows that 50% of people suffering from depression across the globe reported having unexplained physical pain like back pains, headaches, stomach pains, and neck pains. Depression can literally hurt without a valid medical condition. Also, they get more easily exhausted from the relatively simple task. A person with severe depression find it difficult to just get out of bed, they seem to lose interest in their surroundings. They also have trouble finding enough strength to participate in normal activities.
Because of people with depression lose their interest in life, they also become less optimistic. They find it hard to get motivated, psychologists called this phenomenon as “depressive realism”. In a study based on Moore & Fresco published in 2012, “Non-depressed people believed they performed better on laboratory tasks than they actually did, compared to people with depression”. As depressed seeps in, they are less positive about the things that can give them more.
Depression is a very serious matter, it is important to seek help at once to have a better chance of recovery. As bad as the situation may seem, depression is treatable with transcranial magnetic stimulation and therapies. If any of your loved ones are showing signs of hidden depression in North Beach, get them the help they deserve and contact us right if you have any questions.
Countless studies and experiments show that exercise is one of the most effective ways of promoting good mental health. Regular exercise can effectively alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety and more. It promotes better memory, relieves stress, boosts overall mood and helps to get that good night sleep. It doesn’t have to be a rigorous training spent on the gym, a simple modest exercise can really make an impact on mental health. Exercise is an all-powerful move for most mental health illnesses.
It reduces the risk of developing serious illnesses like heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, dementia, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. People who suffered from a stroke can benefit well from exercise.
Positive Benefits of Exercise
Aside from losing weight and promoting better sleep patterns, most people do exercise because it motivates them to ‘get-going’ and has a sense of well-being. Having a target routine each day makes it easier to get up from the bed and stay active. Getting the body moving is one of the most natural remedies to beat depression and in keeping the mind healthy.
One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is to relieve stress. Sweating during workouts can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise triggers large concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that assists the brain to fight mental stress. Working out can also boost the body’s immune system while dealing with existing mental tension.
Generates Happy Chemicals
Laboring on the treadmill can be a tough business but it’s worth the trouble. When doing any kind of exercise whether vigorous or moderate, it releases chemical called endorphins. This chemical is responsible for creating feelings of happiness and euphoria. Several studies show that exercise can greatly alleviate depressive symptoms of the clinically depressed people. Doctors commonly recommend to patients with depression or anxiety to hit the gym at any given time. For this reason, exercise is proven to be as effective as antidepressant pills prescribed in treating depression.
It Improves Self-Confidence
Even an amateur hitting the gym for the first time will feel a million bucks upon hopping on a treadmill. Being in the gym and making that first step towards change can boost self-confidence on a different level. It implies positive self-image regardless of weight, gender, or age. Exercise creates another view of perception towards self-worth and attractiveness. In a way, this promotes positive thinking which generates good mental health up a notch.
Enjoy the Great Fun Outdoors
Who says exercising is limited on a gym time? A simple walk or an afternoon stroll in the great outdoors or even in a park can greatly alleviate good mood. The vitamin D from the D can decrease depressive symptoms. There is a lot to choose from like hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, rock-climbing and more – the options are boundless. A single round of jog around the park while enjoying a scenic view can greatly increase self-worth.
Prevents Common Brain Illnesses
As time goes by, the brain gets a little bit cloudy. Aging makes the brain lose important neuro-connections. As a result, the people can become sluggish and lose many vital brain functions. Poor brain function often leads to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s which kill off brain cells. However, exercising cannot cure such diseases but it can surely put them at bay for several more years. Working out at in early years of life can prevent degeneration of the brain particularly in the hippocampus. It’s an area in the brain responsible for memory and learning.
It’s a common knowledge that hitting the gym even for a moderate workout can tire you out. Not in a sense of breaking point but just enough to promote relaxation needed for a good night sleep. For many, exercising is better than a sleeping pill, even for those who suffer from insomnia. Getting the body active for about 5 to 6 hours before bedtime raises the core temperature of the body. After that the body drops back to its normal temp, signaling the body to sleep.
While exercise offers a chance to lift your mood, it’s not going to be effective every time for every person, especially in cases of chronic mental illness. Get effective help treating your mental illness without having to pump yourself full of drugs. Contact Us today to learn about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and how it can make mental illness much more manageable.
More than 14 million American adults suffer from clinical depression. According to researchers, by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world. Around two-thirds of people suffering from depression will have another episode of the illness during their lifetime. Existing treatment options often lead to severe side effects. In time these medications will lose their effectiveness in treating depression. These will eventually lead to a lack of adequate treatment options.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a newly found advance treatment for resistant depression. The US Food and Drug Administration of FDA approved TMS for clinical depression that can no longer treat with previous conventional antidepressant medications and therapies. Patients who suffer from drug-resistant treatments and medications can benefit well undergoing TMS therapy.
The medical community approved TMS because of its non-invasive procedure. TMS does not require any sedation, anesthesia on its depression treatment. It’s a simple procedure which conveniently performed right inside the doctor’s office under their supervision. Patients are kept awake and fully alert during each treatment sessions.
As a non-systemic and does not include heavy doses of drugs. Also, because TMS is a non-pharmaceutical therapy, it does not entail any drugs to circulate throughout the body. Since TMS does not involve any medical procedure or drugs, it does not have side effects associated with antidepressant medications like weight gain, nausea, sleepiness, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction.
Initially, TMS was used as depression treatment but recent studies show that this procedure can also treat different brain disorders. Doctors used TMS to treat a wide range of mental disorders like generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tinnitus and cognitive impairments.
Some of the benefits of TMS include:
TMS active a large area of the Prefrontal Cortex
TMS delivers highly focus magnetic field pulses to the prefrontal cortex of the brain – to stimulate the area of the brain associated with depression. The procedure produces short bursts of magnetic pulses through the scalp and it triggers the neurons locally as it targets the areas of the brain. The pulses which the TMS machine produces are similar to what the MRI imaging scan emits. As the TMS machine produces these pulses, it stimulates the deeper and broader area of the brain linked to depression.
An effective depression treatment
Many can attest to the excellent efficacy of TMS therapy. Several studies support the effectiveness of this state of the art technique. During the 4 to 8 weeks of TMS treatment phase, clinically depressed people show a promising recovery that persists into the long term. The success of TMS treatment grows steadily over the years as newer treatment parameters have been discovered along with strategic targeting in the brain’s area. Even for people who undergone electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, they show significant recovery from depression.
Shorter treatment time
The average treatment for TMS therapy lasts for about 4 to 8 weeks. During this time, patients can already notice great improvements in their overall well-being. Studies show that the improvements noted in the patient lasted for several years without any significant relapse. This saves a lot of time and money for both the providers and the patient. Compare to antidepressant medications and therapies, TMS offers a safe and effective treatment for depression.
Other Benefits of TMS
Unlike the conventional depression treatments, TMS therapy does not produce systemic side effects like sedation, nausea, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth. There are no reports of either memory loss or inability to concentrate which are both links to antidepressants.
Several clinical trials show that TMS therapy is an effective and safe treatment for patients who do not respond to previous antidepressant medications. TMS therapy offers very few side effects which are generally well tolerated by most patients. The most common side effect of TMS includes a slight scalp irritation and mild headache during the first week of treatment but will eventually subside.
Depression makes a person lose hope, drains their energy, even making day to day tasks difficult to perform. Overcoming depression is not as easy as it looks; it takes time, effort, and courage. However, even in severe cases of clinical depression, it is still possible to beat the illness. The key to combat depression on your own is to start small and continuously feed the positive energy to keep it going. Defeating depression takes a lot of dedication and strong will. Nevertheless, with just simple positive choices each day will really make a big difference in the long run. It might not ultimately be as effective as combining psychotherapy with transcranial magnetic stimulation in Miami Shores, but even the smallest bit of help can go a long way.
One can start with one single decision – changing one’s behavior. Adding a physical activity and shifting healthy lifestyle is one of the many natural depression treatments. The first step is usually the hardest but building a routine from there will gradually lift the heavy fog of depression. Here are the top 5 things to do to combat depression.
Build a Support Group
Reach out to family and friends; depression is really hard to tackle on your own. The very nature of depression is to make a person isolated and withdrawn from their loved ones. It will get harder to seek help once depression seeps deeper into the person. Staying connected and taking part in the family or other social activities will make a big difference in the recovery. There will be instances in which depression will make it harder to talk, socialize or to reach out, but don’t lose hope and keep trying.
Do What You Love
To better manage stress, do activities that can energize the body. This includes following a fun and healthy daily routine and scheduling interesting activities. Try to remember activities that used to be fun. Go back and relearn other hobbies that may have been long forgotten. Having your mind preoccupied with something else can reduce the symptoms of depression. It rewires your brain to think more positive. It may not immediately cure depression but it can surely lift the spirits and generates good mood.
Get Moving and Exercise
Getting out of bed when depression kicks in can seem like a disheartening task, not to mention hitting the gym. But exercising is one of the most vital steps in fighting depression. Several studies show that exercising is an effective natural treatment for alleviating depression symptoms. Sweating in a treadmill releases chemical called endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for generating feelings of euphoria and happiness. No one expects a depressed person to hit the gym in a rigorous exercise for a full session. Even a 10-minute walk can improve overall mental health. Exercising can also prevent relapse once fully recovered.
Enjoy the Sun
The vitamin D from the sun’s rays triggers serotonin levels in the body to improve mood. Take every chance of going out and basking in the sun even for at least 15 minutes a day. Anyone can do this simple task while taking a quick walk during lunch break, enjoying an al fresco dining or spend some time gardening. Whenever the opportunity comes in take advantage of exercising outside of going for a hike, jog or swim on a beach. Spending time under the sun can greatly contribute to overcoming depression, in the long run, even a possibility of faster recovery.
Stock up your pantry and eat healthily. The right food groups can drastically improve good mood. Also, stay away from foods that affect the brain like alcohol, trans fat, caffeine and processed foods. Eating the right kind of food greatly affects the body and the brain. Do not skip meals especially breakfast this will contribute more to depressive symptoms like being irritable and sluggish. Aim to cut sugar and refined carbs. Sugary snacks including cookies, cakes, and ‘comfort foods’ like burgers, pasta can lead to mood swings. Choose healthy snack alternatives like nuts and fruits.
Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder that affects your mood in extreme ways. One moment you’re feeling alright, then you’re hit with an immense depression. In some cases, you feel incredibly happy, active and energetic and what’s odd is that you don’t remember when it started. Then comes this sudden tug of hopeless void, sometimes enough to make you faint on the spot.
This is not a way to live a healthy life and people with Bipolar Disorder struggle to live their everyday lives. There are effective medications to stabilize your moods, as well as psychotherapy. However, they have their setbacks such as time, costs, and physical conditions that can get in the way of medication. These were the only working methods until Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was utilized.
TMS for Bipolar Disorder
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS for short) is the process of placing an electromagnetic coil over your head and delivering precise electromagnetic waves to your brain. Specific parts of the brain are stimulated over a period of time, normally lasting around 10-20 minutes at a time. TMS is already a proven treatment for Severe Depression, so researchers are looking into how it affects people with Bipolar Disorder.
How TMS Works
How it works is that the coil delivers an electromagnetic wave to the brain. The affected area reacts to the waves, stimulating it. One such proof that it works is that when the magnet stimulates the motor area of the brain, the patient’s arm or leg twitches. The amount of energy delivered is not enough to harm the brain, even after repeated exposure.
The procedure is very much like physical therapy. Think of a part of your brain as an arm that hasn’t moved because it was in a cast. It’s frail and can’t bend much. In physical therapy, the therapist assists in moving the arm and making you grab objects. The same can be said for TMS therapy. The waves activate a specific part of the brain, making them “stretch and bend” like they used to. Depending on the frequency of the waves, TMS can either stimulate the part of the brain or suppress activity.
Treating Bipolar Disorder with TMS is slowly becoming a reality. Clinical trials have determined that using TMS to target areas of the prefrontal cortex show improvement in patients. To make the clinical trial more thorough, they set up two treatments. First is the sham or placebo test, literally therapy whose only purpose is to make the patient think they are getting treatment. The second is the true treatment, where the mood-center of the brain is stimulated.
Further Research Required
The end result of the clinical trials is conflicting. The placebo test yielded little improvements, which was good. On the other hand, the true treatment displayed improvement with patients. The only conflict is that the effects mostly leaned on improving the depressive effects. According to the “Hamilton Depression Rating Test”, TMS made significant improvements in the patients with Bipolar Disorder. This means though TMS has not fully treated the disorder, it made a significant improvement in their lives. It’s now just a matter of adjusting the treatment methods to further improve the results.
Autism is a complex condition in the brain which impairs communication and social interactions. It affects 1 out of 80 Americans on average, even more so when you consider the world. Autism has a lot of varied symptoms and severities that it’s called “Autism Spectrum Disorder” to help encompass all of it.
The cause of Autism is about as varied as its symptoms. In some cases, it’s caused by a faulty gene. In others, it caused by chemical imbalances or viruses during pregnancy, such as German measles. Autism is generally detectable around birth, up to the 3rd year of age. In some cases, a person may not display symptoms in the early years, only to dip in development after the 3rd year.
Today’s Autism Treatments
Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder is generally advanced methods of training. There are also drugs that help manage certain severities of autism like antipsychotics. Ultimately, once it’s detected, it should be given attention as soon as possible.
One problem is that for children and adolescents with severe conditions, treatment is extensive. It’s a long-term procedure that demands attention, both medical and financial. It impacts the quality of life of both the child and their parents.
There is promising hope for alternative treatment. It’s in a form of a special machine attached to an electromagnet. The procedure is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, TMS for short. It uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate specific areas of the brain.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Trials for Autism
The treatment is still in the experimental stage. There’s no government-approved methods yet, but clinical trials all over the world show promise. What makes transcranial magnetic stimulation a novel approach to brain treatment, is how simple the procedure is.
An 8-shaped magnet is placed on the patient’s head. Afterwards, the machine generates precise pulses of electricity that activates the electromagnet. This delivers a precise amount of electromagnetism into the brain, causing the targeted part to activate. The effect is both seen and felt during the testing and mapping phase. In this phase, the electromagnet will target the motor area of the brain, causing the hand or a foot to twitch when the magnet is activated.
How TMS Works to Treat Autism
How it works to treat Autism, is essentially the same way you learn how to do a certain task. TMS therapy will activate certain parts of the brain to “flex” them. The procedure lasts up to 6 weeks, with daily, 30-60 minute processes. With this repetitive process, the brain eventually learns to activate properly and all the parts around the area adapt accordingly. By aiming the electromagnet on the part of the brain that controls communication, it can train the area to work correctly.
Clinical trials have shown improvements in a child’s behavior. There’s improvement in social skills and hand-eye coordination, which are markers for progressive brain development. TMS therapy, combined with proper training could be the key to reversing the effects of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It’s only a matter of time before a proper method of TMS therapy is approved. With promising results from clinical trials and the global effort of researchers, we’re one step closer to fully understanding our brain, and perhaps a cure for its many illnesses.
It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious, especially during times of stress or tension, such as the brief moment when your boss contemplates just after you asked for a raise. Anxiety is our brain’s way of preparing itself for danger. Not exactly to combat it, but to ensure that if we ever fight, or flee, our body is ready to act as best as it can.
When a person starts to feel anxiety outside where they should, problems start to arise. When anxiety occurs outside normal circumstances, and happens for days, over a course of more than 6 months, it’s classified as a disorder. The medical disorder is known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD for short.
It’s generalized because it has a number of causes, some of them unique to the person. It causes restlessness, fatigue, irritability, sleeping issues, and concentration problems, all of which make a significant dent in a person’s quality of life. What’s worse is that GAD is often accompanied, or causes other mental complications like depression.
Treatment via drug therapy is the most common solution, with counseling or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy being the go-to for long-term treatment and recession prevention.
One downside to the otherwise effective ways to treat GAD is the high costs and the possible adverse effects due to the medication. If a person has good health insurance, that can be mitigated somehow, but not everyone has it.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A New Hope
As the procedure is called, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS for short) is a relatively novel way to treat anxiety disorders. TMS was already in use decades ago in order to map out brain function in stroke patients. They figured that since our brain cells respond to weak pulses of electromagnetism, it could be used to stimulate brain cells to restore their function.
The idea is simple. An electromagnet is placed on top of your head and a machine regulates the electricity flowing to the magnet, creating minute pulses of electromagnetism. The targeted area of the brain is affected by the waves and they activate or at least react to the stimulation. Like physical therapy on a newly recovered leg or arm, the procedure will “train” and “massage” the target area of the brain to work back to normal. These procedures normally last about an hour and are done daily for 4-6 weeks.
The magnetic pulses are set to a low frequency of 1 Hz. Think of this as music. Lower Hz is slow, calm music while higher ones are the intense, fast beats. The low “hum” causes an inhibitory effect on the brain, calming activity as if listening to calming soul music. The pulsing is then aimed at the area of the brain where the cause of GAD is identified, such as the left prefrontal cortex. (The area above your left eye.)
The inhibitory effects showed remarkable results in reducing anxiety. Clinical trials with different experiments show consistent positive results, especially with continued TMS therapy. Currently, the only way to get TMS treatment for GAD is participating in clinical trials, but with solid evidence of improvement on patients, it’s only a matter of time before it’s approved as a treatment method.