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.
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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.