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Using TMS to Treat Patients with PTSD

Symptoms
Causes
How TMS Helps PTSD
How TMS is Done

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly known as PTSD is a mental health disorder that can be triggered by a frightening event either experiencing it or witnessing it. Most people who experience traumatic events may have difficulty adjusting at first, but with good self-care, they usually get better over time.  

Symptoms of PTSD may include nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thought about the traumatic event. Without proper care, these symptoms worsen over time, interfering with the normal daily routine and taking away the quality of enjoyable living. Seeking proper medical care and effective treatment after PTSD symptoms become apparent is crucial in recovering from the disorder.

 

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms may become apparent as early as one month after the traumatic event, but on some occasions, it may surface several years after the event. Medical professionals group PTSD symptoms into four categories, namely: avoidance, intrusive memories, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. As any other mental health problems, PTSD symptoms vary in severity and from one person to another.

 

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include avoiding certain places, activities, and people that remind patients of the traumatic event. Usually, patients do not want to talk about the traumatic event.

 

Intrusive memories

The most common symptoms of intrusive memories include flashbacks or reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again, recurring unwanted memories, or severe emotional distress or physical reactions towards which reminds them of the traumatic event.

 

Causes

Because PTSD varies greatly, medical professionals find it difficult to know the exact cause of the mental disorder. Although a generalized diagnosis of a stressful experience, inherited mental risks like having family members with anxiety and depression, and the way the brain regulates chemicals in the body can trigger PTSD.

It’s hard for anyone to live with PTSD as symptoms can intensify over time leading to more serious health problems including drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. People with PTSD can suddenly change their behavior when they hear loud clattering or a car backfire thinking about their combat experiences. This often interferes with their daily lives, in severe cases, they can no longer function properly.

 

How TMS Helps PTSD

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS emits rapid but short pulses of the magnetic field into an area of the brain. It can simultaneously stimulate the inactive or disruptive region while suppressing the overactive area of the brain. The procedure can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with PTSD.

 

How does it work?

TMS uses repeated strong electromagnetic pulses to change the activities within the brain circuitry. This gives out a direct influence on the brain activity in a very precise manner, enabling an unprecedented method of control over how the brain works.

Since 2008, after receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, TMS had been used as an alternative treatment for major depressive disorder. People suffering from treatment-resistant medications can benefit well using TMS.

During TMS session, the electromagnetic pulses passed through the skull going to the different areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain can have significant effects on mood regulation. Depending on what areas are targeted and the depth into the brain, TMS can lessen symptoms of some mental disorders and improve overall mood behavior. This new innovation procedure can change activity in the brain area and affects the overall function of the brain.

According to several studies, introducing the brain to these electromagnetic pulses triggers the electrical charge within the cells, thus brain activity can be shifted from one state to another. This makes the brain shift from a depressed state of mind to a healthy pattern of neurons. TMS can alter the disordered cognitive and emotional processing of the brain in PTSD, restoring its proper function. In several occasions, TMS can slow down brain activity in motor its region to interfere with hyperactive circuits in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, TMS is known to also reduce activity in the auditory cortex to hinder hallucinations and ringing sensations in Tinnitus.

TMS therapy can offer great help with its magnetic stimulation of the brain structures and networks associated with PTSD. This can significantly change the lives of many people suffering from this mental health disorder.

Experts believe that understanding more of how the brain works and its region can provide information on how TMS can be utilized more in treating various mental health problems. With a better design protocol and threshold, it can build more accurate models and targeted areas to treat more mental disorders.

 

How it is Done

TMS therapy treatment is administered for a period of weeks inside the doctor’s office as an outpatient. It usually takes less than an hour depending on the patient’s condition. Patients remain awake and fully alert to their environment. Since TMS does not produce any major side effects, patients can immediately go back to their normal routine following the treatment.

 

Diagnosing OCD 
OCD Symptoms 
Causes of OCD 
OCD Treatments 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD affects both men and women of all ages. It has a neurobiological basis regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds. OCD affects people ages 15 to 44. According to research, about 1 in 40 adult Americans (around 2.3% of the entire population) and 1 in 100 children suffer from OCD. Moreover, in a data of the World Health Organization, OCD belongs to the top 20 causes of illness-related disability in the world.

People who suffer from OCD have either obsessive thoughts or compulsive urges that are repetitive in nature. Some may even have both obsessions and compulsions behaviors. OCD is not just having negative thoughts or habits like nail biting. The disorder can greatly affect the person’s performance in school, work, and relationships. Because of the obsessive and uncontrolled behavior, it keeps the person from living a normal life. These thought and actions are beyond the individual’s control.

 

How to Tell if it’s OCD

Some people develop OCD around their puberty but usually occur during early adulthood. An obsessive thought, for example, is arranging kitchen utensils in an exact manner every morning. On the other hand, a compulsive habit is washing hands for several times after touching something that might contain bacteria. A person with OCD may feel powerless to stop despite its acknowledgment not to do it.

OCD thoughts are obsessions that are persistent and uncontrollable impulses, thoughts, or images that are unwanted and disturbing. In responses to these thoughts, people suffering from OCD still perform certain physical or mental compulsions. Even though knowing that their obsessive thoughts are irrational, they still feel compelled to do these unnecessary rituals. Unfortunately, the reliefs from doing these rituals are temporary; the obsessive-compulsive cycle continues. This often results in helplessness and frustrations.

 

Symptoms of OCD

Symptoms of OCD include a cycle of obsessive thoughts and a temporary relief of doing so. People with OCD do such behaviors not because they enjoy them but because they cannot control themselves. A lot of people suffering from OCD experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

  •    A compulsion thought of repetitive behavior or mental act that the person needs to carry out in order to ‘get rid’ of the unpleasant feelings.
  •    An obsessive feeling associated with the persistent thought that causes anxiety, disgust, or uneasiness.

 

Causes of OCD

Health care providers cannot pinpoint the exact cause of OCD. Certain areas of the brain have different patterns in people suffering from OCD, but more in-depth research is needed. Based on scientific data, women are more prone than in men. Symptoms often start in teens or young adults. Also, stress plays a big factor in making the symptoms progress. To this day, the biological factor in developing OCD remains unknown.

Several factors can affect people in developing OCD, these include:

  •    Having symptoms of depression or anxiety
  •    Family having OCD
  •    History of physical or sexual abuse
  •    A traumatic experience in the past

 

Treatments for OCD

There is still no known cure for OCD, but there are available treatments that may lessen the symptoms. These treatments can help manage the symptoms from interfering with daily life. Health care specialists can prescribe medications, therapy or a combination of both. OCD can significantly interfere with life but here are some of the best treatments for OCD to help keep it under control.

 

TMS

While it is still in the early stages of discovery, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is showing excellent promise in treating OCD as well as all sorts of other mental illnesses. For example, it works well with mental issues like ADHD:

 

Medications

Doctors usually prescribe a type of antidepressant drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. This drug can help regularize the balance of the brain chemicals. The effects of SSRIs can take several months to notice but most people benefit from this drug.

 

Psychological Therapy

Health care providers usually go for the cognitive behavioral therapy of CBT. In this treatment, the session will let the patient face their fears and obsessive thoughts to better manage them. The therapist will try to distinguish the exact cause of the problem to better address them and help patients how to deal with their stressors in a healthier way.

Some health care providers combine these two treatments; SSRI and CBT.  There are cases that patients may need to seek out specialists and other forms of unconventional treatment to better suit their needs. 

To learn more about TMS for OCD or to set up an appointment, contact us today!

 

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