Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT is a treatment procedure which uses small electric currents emitted directly through the brain. Usually done under general anesthesia, it involves triggering a quick and rapid seizure.
The procedure intentionally causes alterations in the brain chemistry in which can reduce symptoms of certain mental disorders. Medical practitioners often result using ECT when other treatments failed to treat a particular mental disorder. However, ECT may not work for everyone as involves painful sensations and medication like anesthesia. A huge number of patients suffered from memory loss, fractured bones, and other adverse side effects.
Some clinics may claim to administer ECT but side effects vary from severe to worse:
Patients may suffer confusion almost immediately after treatment. This can last from few minutes to several hours, some reported to have confusion for several days longer. Confusion tends to be more noticeable in older patients.
Memory loss is one of the most common side effects of ECT and patients have trouble remembering events that occurred months or weeks before treatment. Doctors characterized this condition as retrograde amnesia. Some patients may claim to have trouble calling events weeks prior to treatment.
Aside from these adverse effects, there are other physical side effects of ECT. Some people suffer from a headache, nausea, muscle pain, or jaw pain. Because ECT is an invasive and systemic procedure, there is some medical complication involve due to the use of anesthesia. Increase heart rate and blood pressure are amongst the most common problems during ECT procedure. Unfortunately, these problems can cause serious heart complications. Medical professional advise against ECT if patient experience or have a history of heart disorders.
Who Qualifies for ECT?
Before ECT procedure can commence, patients undergo an intense full evaluation which usually includes the following:
- A complete physical exam
- A medical history
- A psychiatric assessment
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) to check patient’s heart health
- Anesthesiologist review to go over the risks of anesthesia
- Several basic blood tests
Most patients suffering from mental disorders failed to respond positively to conventional treatments. But instead of falling into despair, medical science offers a relatively new, safe and efficient alternative treatment, the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS. It’s a noninvasive, non-systemic procedure that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of certain mental disorders. Medical professionals usually use TMS as the last option when no other treatments fail.
How it Works
During TMS treatment session, medical professional place an electromagnetic coil near the prefrontal cortex of the patient. This coil emits painless electromagnetic pulses that stimulate brain nerve cells associated with mood control and depression. These regions in the brain often have decreased activity in people suffering from depression. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS as it can effectively ease depression symptoms and noticeably improve overall mood.
Most people can respond positively to the conventional treatment of depression but these medications are not for everyone. Some standards form of treatments losses their efficacy over time due to drug tolerance and other factors. TMS treatment used is often recommended for patients who do not respond accordingly to conventional treatments like medications and psychotherapy.
As a non-invasive form of brain stimulation, TMS results to fewer risks or none at all as a brain stimulation procedure used for depression. Like another form of nerve stimulation like vagus or ECT, TMS does not require any surgery or implantation of electrodes in the body. TMS does not require any sedation and does not cause any seizure whether intentional or not.
The FDA and other medical organization considered TMS as a well-tolerated, safe, and efficient alternative treatment to cure depression disorders. However, it may cause some mild side effects which eventually go away in the course of the treatment duration.
Some of the common side effects comprise of mild to moderate and improved shortly after each session. These side effects decrease over time and may include the following:
Side effects are generally mild to moderate and improve shortly after an individual session and decrease over time with additional sessions. They may include:
- A headache
- Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
- Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
What You Can Expect
TMS treatment sessions are done inside the doctor’s office on an outpatient basis. Typically last about few minutes or an hour. Patients can immediately resume their daily activity after each session for a period of five times a week for four to six weeks.
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.