Millions of people worldwide suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and the unpleasant side effects of conventional antidepressant medications make the experience even more excruciating. Some of the most common adverse effects of these medications include irritability, sleep disturbance, nausea, fatigue, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. Even though these drugs come in strict and high dosages, they fail to relieve depression symptoms in more than half of the patients.
Fortunately, with the invention of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, people suffering from the disorder can have better options for treatment. More and more people are switching to TMS therapy as their main treatment to fight MDD.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS in 2008 as an alternative treatment option for MDD. This state of the art depression treatment consistently shows excellent results in treating depressive disorders even for severe cases.
TMS is a type of brain stimulation therapy using electromagnetic wave pulses which targets specific brain region (left prefrontal cortex) associated with depressive disorder. The technique stimulates underactive neurons while suppressing the overactive regions, thus rebalances the brain chemistry. As a result, it regulates mood that helps improve sleep quality and behavior with minimal side effects.
Once the patient undergoes TMS treatment, sessions will usually last for about four to six weeks in a series of five sessions per week. Each treatment session usually last for about 40 minutes and the patient is kept fully awake and alert in a very comfortable setup. Healthcare professional place a coil on top of the patient’s head near the forehead as the electromagnetic pulses targets the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The painless yet effective magnetic waves travel into the brain with a standard depth of 2.5 centimeters. Usually, patients feel nothing during the TMS session, but there are some cases patients can feel a slight tapping on the scalp.
Since TMS does not involve any medications or surgeries, patients can watch TV or listen to music during the treatment sessions. Patients can immediately resume their daily activity following the treatment session.
Side Effects of TMS
This advanced technology targets a specific area of the brain for optimal results without increasing risks. As a non-invasive and non-systemic treatment method, TMS does not have any adverse effects and side effects are minimal. Many clinical studies supported this notion; TMS side effect is all well tolerated with only a few minimal side effects that tend to dissipate and transient as the session continues.
Some of the known side effects of TMS include:
- Discomfort where the magnet was placed – some patients reported having scalp irritation with mild to a moderate intensity where the coil was placed during the TMS treatment
- Dizziness – during the first few treatment session, patients may feel dizziness but reported to subsides as soon as the session ends.
- Lightheadedness – In rare occasions, patients may feel lightheadedness along with a dizziness and mild headache but soon dissipates after the first few sessions.
- Mild to a moderate headache – perhaps the most common side effects of TMS, but just like the other side effects, patients reported having improved after TMS treatment.
- Slight tingling sensation – few patients reported feeling slight tingling sensation in the head near where the coil was placed. But this gradually subsides after the first to two weeks of sessions.
Risks of TMS
As great as the TMS treatment for patients suffering from MDD especially to those who failed several times in the conventional treatment method, TMS isn’t for everyone.
There are some contradictions in using TMS. The machine uses electromagnetic waves similar to what an MRI produce and there are certain limitations. Patients with ferromagnetic, conductive, and other magnetic sensitive implants in their heads and other non-removable metallic implants cannot undergo TMS treatment. As well as patients with pacemakers, implanted electrodes/stimulators, bullet fragments, aneurysm clips or coils, and cochlear implants can have serious injury or death if they undergo treatment.
It is important to have a thorough medical assessment and other appropriate cautionary measures should be taken before considering TMS treatment. Some patients may have increased risk of seizure based on medical or genetic history. Patients should always follow strict guidelines and medical advice during the entire treatment sessions. Taking any medications should be first consulted with the health care provider as some can cause tinnitus and may increase the risk of seizure. Up to now, there are no reported incidences of TMS causing tumors or any type of cancer. It does not interfere with memory or concentration.
Depression is lethal disease, depriving a person to fully experience the joy of living. Even with antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, many people still live in the shadows of deep despair. Undergoing TMS therapy can bring back the joy of living and having those missed opportunities of precious moments with loved ones back.
For a consultation or to set up an appointment for TMS therapy in near Palm Beach Gardens, contact us right away.