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.
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.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is far from being a miracle, but the procedure has opened new ways to understand the brain. These ways are different from functional MRIs which view the activity of the brain in real time. TMS allows us to see the deeper and more subtle result of stimulating our brain cells. It allows us to identify what part of the brain does what, more accurately.
If you break the process down to its simplest steps, it’s basically putting an electromagnet on top of your head. The magnet activates in pulses using a machine that controls both the strength and the frequency. The electromagnet’s activation causes a somewhat loud “tick” sound akin to the sparks of electricity when inserting an electric plug into a socket. The machine generates high voltage bursts that deliver powerful electromagnetic waves. But despite the raw power fed to the magnets, it’s harmless to the receiver.
TMS Parts in General
There are two kinds of TMS. There’s the original TMS where there’s a large electromagnetic coil positioned on a certain part of your head to deliver single pulses. The other one is called Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or rTMS. It’s often a smaller pair of the electromagnet that delivers repetitive weaker bursts of electromagnetism over a period of time. Both of them have the same general parts.
The Electromagnets or Conductors
While it can be explained as simply aiming the magnets, how it actually works is a bit more complex. The magnets are composed of two coils that deliver a “beam” of electromagnetism. The two beams on their own are weak and won’t affect the brain that much. When they cross, however, the combined energy is enough to properly stimulate whichever part they land on. This is how TMS can stimulate specific parts of the brain.
The Pulse Generator
Basically, the machine that generates electricity to activate the electromagnets. The machine comes with a control panel that allows the user to alter the amount of electricity that flows to the electromagnet. They can also control the frequency of the pulses. The pulse generators are relatively large and heavy. But recent advancement in technology allowed development of smaller, semi-portable machines.
All in One TMS Machines
Since machines are getting smaller these days, so are TMS pulse generators. There are commercially released products where the magnet and the pulse generators come as one device. These relatively lightweight devices can be placed on your head to deliver pre-programmed frequencies.
The key to getting the right effect is to conduct the therapy continuously. TMS clinics offer programs that have 40-60 minute sessions every day for 5-7 days a week, lasting for 20-30 days. On average, people experience improvements in their depression and anxiety. What concerns most first-time users are the lack of sensations during the first few rounds of stimulation. Proof that it affects the brain is shown through the muscle twitches caused when the magnet is aimed at the motor part of the brain which controls your muscles. The procedure is indeed slow, which is important as so to avoid causing stress or damage.
The brain is perhaps the most complicated organ in the world. Millions of neurons communicating in countless ways. They work millions of times per second, all ensuring that you live longer than 2 minutes. Complicated systems also have complicated problems, which often need complicated solutions. Yet as we discover more about our brain and how we can affect it, solutions for problems such as depression, tend to get simpler.
So simple that it involves putting a magnet over your head for an hour or less, every day for a month.
What is TMS?
TMS is short for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. As the name states, it’s using electromagnets to stimulate areas beyond the skull, specifically, certain parts of the brain. The TMS machine consists of the electromagnetic coils that deliver the magnetic pulses and the pulse generator. This is a machine that delivers precise amounts of electric current to the magnet.
What is Depression?
It’s feeling sad, but not the everyday sadness you feel when you, for example, dropped your cold ice cream on hot, stressful day. Depression is an intense kind of sadness that can last for days, even weeks. It can affect your way of thinking, making it progressively worse. It can resolve itself into Clinical Depression, a treatable medical condition.
How Does it Work?
It works by activating a pair of electromagnetic coils about half an inch above your scalp. The two coils deliver a relatively weak pulse of electromagnetism, not enough to affect your brain in any significant way. Where the two waves meet, however, causes a significant electromagnetic effect. The effect is strong enough to make your hand or foot twitch when the coil is aimed at the motor area of the brain. Yet, weak enough that it doesn’t cause any significant damage, even after an daily, one-hour exposure over a month.
Using this targeted method, TMS can stimulate certain parts of the brain. People suffering from depression have decreased activity in certain parts of their brain. Specifically, these are the areas that create or govern the creation of Dopamine, a brain chemical that causes happiness. TMS can stimulate these areas to help restore normal function. Think of it as physical therapy on an arm or leg that has been cast for 4 months. TMS “flexes” and “massages” the problem areas, allowing these parts to work normally when they need to.
The full therapy varies depending on the severity of the depression. According to many clinical trials and anonymous patient data, 4-6 weeks of therapy caused improvements about 95% of the patients. The 5% are those unfortunate to have developed adverse effects. This is either through pre-existing conditions or could not handle the therapy due to side effects such as dizziness and nausea.
Continued therapy is encouraged well after the month-long procedure to minimize remission. Though there are still a number of patients who went into remission after stopping the procedure, TMS still holds a candle when it comes to non-invasive or drug therapies for depression.
The idea of placing magnets on your head may seem odd as a medical procedure. But, nowadays, it is a method used to treat many mental conditions. This treatment, like any other therapies looking to treat mental illnesses, doesn’t offer an absolute guarantee for success. So, how successful is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
How TMS Works
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is exactly that. They place a high power electromagnet on key places on your scalp or forehead. This is to deliver magnetic pulses that affect your brain cells. There is no surgery, needles, cutting, or any other invasive procedures involved other than maybe a little adhesive. TMS stimulates certain areas of the brain, targeted to treat depression. According to some research, it also has potential to treat autism or Asperger’s.
An Alternative to Pills
People who seek alternatives to dangerous mood-controlling medications can now turn to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. In some cases, people who suffer depression do not respond to psychiatric drugs. Some cannot tolerate the drugs or find other holistic methods ineffective. In other cases, patients cannot use drugs to treat their conditions. An example would be pilots or other people who need to be functional while under treatment and cannot take psychoactive drugs.
Depression is a gripping condition. It cannot easily be detected due to a person’s inclination to isolate themselves. The condition can go undetected due to ignorance and misinformation of people around the affected person. This is often the case for adolescents who cannot tell depression from the normal roller-coaster emotions of puberty. If left unattended, depression can lead to further damages to the person quality of life. In severe cases, it can end in suicide or other permanent damage.
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TMS Success Rate
According to most clinics that offer TMS, the success rate of treating persistent depression with TMS range between 70% to 80%. In severe cases of depression, the full treatment has a 60% to 75% success rate. This is to fully treat or significantly reduce the symptoms. The treatment involves numerous sessions, lasting 25 or more procedures. The effect is gradual and may come with some side effects, but all can be managed. Once a patient reaches about half the recommended treatment cycles, dramatic improvements can be seen.
The success rates are not just from the treatment alone. Like all manner of conditions such as addiction, maintenance is key. The success rate is solid, but maintenance is what keeps remission at bay.
Nearly 20% of patients who undergo this treatment do not produce successful results. But for those who did find the treatment effective, their lives have been changed for the better. Their days in the dark have brightened to a colorful new perspective. They are given hope for better living that everyone else experiences naturally. This chance of a better life reflects how TMS can offer a positive impact.
Still, TMS is still a young technology. Further clinical trials are done every day to see how else TMS can improve and affect the brain. There are clinical trials already set to try TMS treatment on people suffering from constant migraines. Further research can only tell how we can benefit from TMS and how the therapy can be used more effectively.
To set up an appointment for TMS in Florida or to simply ask any questions you might have about the procedure, feel free to contact us anytime.
Research into the way our brains work has progressed exponentially over the last few decades. We are the only life on earth that looks into ourselves, what makes us tick, what makes us think, and what makes us, us. Our brains function through signals, powered by electricity created by our own body.
We’ve tried to master the way the brain utilizes electricity. This started by directly inserting pins that delivered charges to the brain. The brain responded, allowing us to get a rough map of what part of the brain controls which part of the body. Afterwards, we experimented to make practice safer and more beneficial. Still, we continued to search for other methods since inserting pins into the brain is, well, pretty scary.
There are many technological leaps made in this field like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Another path we took is through Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
What is TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
It needs three things: an electromagnetic coil, a machine to deliver precise electric signals, and your brain. The electromagnetic coil delivers a weak magnetic pulse that stimulates brain cells. The stimulation causes neurons to react. This produces certain effects that could be benign or beneficial to people. As far as the research is going, it’s positive.
Adverse Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
With positive effects always come adverse effects. Like all medicine, the goal is to produce as much benefit while minimizing the negative effects. The procedure can cause loud “taps”, simulating sound. Some patients can have their hearing lessened for an hour or two. In some rare cases, it can cause fainting and minor memory impairment. The cases are isolated but possible.
Uses of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS is used to diagnose damage from stroke, multiple sclerosis, movement disorders, injuries and other damages to the neurons, both in the brain and the spinal cord. The effects are measured, allowing doctors to get a proper map of which functions are compromised.
It’s also used to treat major depression. According to research, it has effects on slowing down addiction. With continued therapy, it allows effective suppression of mental impulses due to addiction and withdrawal.
The same effects were shown to have improvements in treating migraine and other neuropathic pain. This is recommended for conditions where regular treatment of drugs are ineffective, or if the patient cannot tolerate the regular treatments
Future Implications of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
The potential benefit of TMS is not fully embraced yet. But further research shows positive results for treating Autism Spectrum and Aspergers. There are also aspirations and speculation about the use of TMS in furthering brain development. There’s prospective data that may suggest TMS can help stimulate brain cells. Its effect on depression also shows potential for treating other psychological disorders. This can range from emotional or mood disorders caused by trauma or other pathological reason.
Clinical trials are still ongoing. The effects of electromagnetism on the brain is still in its infancy, but as time passes, our technology evolves exponentially.
We live in a more mentally-compromised world today – at least there is much more awareness of mental health now. There are 350 million people who suffer from depression according to the World Health Organization. At least 16 million of those people live in the United States. There are 40 million Americans whose lives are negatively-impacted by Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders often come coupled with other disorders, like substance abuse, depression, and more. Obsessive compulsive disorder affects 2.2 Americans as well. Due to the many disorders that debilitate the population today, millions of prescriptions are given. This has a ton of profound side effects that are sometimes arguably worse than the conditions being treated.
Solutions a Worldwide Epidemic
That is why research is being done to find ways that can help the mental situation the world is living in. The search for an effective panacea for mental illnesses is continuing day-by-day. One of the most promising cures that have little to no negative long-term impact is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
TMS encourages the neural pathways that focuses on the limbic system. It encourages it to do more of its work. This, in turn, fosters more positive chemicals in the brain to counteract the effects of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. People who suffer from depression and anxiety have a weakened limbic system that does not function “normally”. Rather than getting prescription pills to carry chemicals that force your brain to function in an unnatural manner, TMS simply uses magnetic vibrations to stimulate the limbic system.
TMS Side Effects
There is little to no negative side effects when someone goes through TMS therapy. The most common complaint is just a minor headache. This is expected since the brain is stimulated much more than what it normally goes through. This is similar to someone who has just started working out and is feeling some muscle pain. TMS functions like working out, but it targets very specific areas. Can you imagine doing 15000 push-ups and 10000 laps around the gym? That is what TMS does but in a more scientific way. Since the areas of the brain that fosters positive sensations does not get to produce a lot of activity, the therapy session makes those areas of the brain to work more.
Why do TMS don’t have a lot of negative side effects? This is because this kind of therapy is both non-invasive and non-systemic. It is non-invasive because it does not open up your body with cuts like a surgical operation. It is non-systemic because you do not ingest it orally. This is unlike antidepressant drugs and other prescription pills. A surgical operation has the risk of complications. Plus, taking oral medicine does have effects that are not wanted and not intended, like damage to the liver and kidney.
Major Results, Minor Problems
If you go through a TMS session, the most unwanted side effect would either be some minor headaches throughout a day or at most a few days. Other side effects include minor hearing impairments and discomfort in some areas of your head. Studies have shown no negative side effects for 257 patients, with 45% of those patients reporting complete remission. Another study regarding TMS includes more than 800 patients surveyed. Other than a headache for a few days that can come and go, no negative long-term side effects were seen.
TMS is Worth Looking Into
Imagine the liberating feeling of no longer being chained by your depression or your anxiety. To put the icing on the cake, there are no long-term side effects as proven by real-life medical case studies. You can have a more joyful life without the medicines and you give the happy area of the brain more exercise. You can get that only through TMS. To learn more, Contact TMS of the Palm Beaches today.