Humans are the only species on Earth capable of looking into ourselves. Not just in the soul-searching kind of way, but literally opening our heads and studying the brain. Our brain is what makes us tick, what makes us who we are, and nearly all of our body parts are used to either protect or keep our brain running.
Our Brains and Depression
What’s interesting is that our brains are powered by electricity. Our body consumes calories to create energy, which the brain uses to activate its cells and produce the needed signals to keep us alive and make us who we are. Sometimes, the brain fails to function the right way, often caused by infections, abnormalities, or injuries. One such example is depression, a condition where the brain’s altered chemistry causes a person’s thoughts and perception, causing feelings of sadness and disinterest. Sometimes it can be managed using drugs, but medications don’t always work for everyone. Some people are resistant to drugs, others cannot tolerate the drugs itself, and some have persistent or severe depression that won’t fully go away with meds alone.
Through the use of electromagnetism, however, medical researchers and physicians found ways to affect our brain and help treat conditions such as depression. Since several regions of the brain regulate our mood, stimulating these areas could activate neurons in an attempt to awake or realign the circuitry in your brain.
How it Works and What to Expect
Before you start a TMS procedure, you’ll need to do two tests: a physical exam and lab tests to ensure TMS is safe for you. TMS is a safe and harmless procedure, but in the realms of medicine, we always need to be as safe as possible. You could have metal plates in your body from surgery, a pacemaker or similar devices, or foreign objects that could be affected by the magnet.
Then, you’ll undergo a psychiatric evaluation, which is especially important if you are suffering from depression. When all is said and done, you’re ready for TMS therapy.
You’re going to be seated on a chair and the operator will attach sensors to your hand and your head that will monitor your body’s electrical activity. The procedure starts with the physician placing the “coil” over your head activate the machine.
The first step is to activate the coil on certain parts of your brain. When the machine is activated, it will produce a somewhat loud clicking sound and one of your arms or legs may twitch. This procedure is called mapping. Once they are finished with mapping and they have found the area to be stimulated, they will begin the procedure.
The coil will stay on a certain part of your head and the machine will turn the coil on at fixed intervals. The entire procedure may last around 30 to 40 minutes. Afterward, you may feel slight hearing impairment from the loud clicks, and a bit of scalp pain or discomfort. In some cases, you might feel some motion sickness, but all the symptoms will disappear after a few minutes.
The entire therapy may last somewhere between 25 to 40 sessions and is usually done about 5 or 6 days a week.
For more questions about TMS or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.
Anxiety is a condition that has many forms, including being aggravated by various types of depression. Thus, anxiety is a complex condition that may debilitate a person who has it. It is also important to remember that anxiety varies in levels from hour to hour. It also varies in degrees from day to day. And as far as being responsive to environmental influences is concerned, anxiety can also lead to panic attacks and improper social behavior.
One treatment used for anxiety is prescription medications. Your doctor might prescribe a particular medication to treat anxiety. Other medications may also be prescribed to combat the side effects of the main drug used to treat anxiety. Because of the side effects experienced by people taking anti-anxiety medications, a variety of treatments have been developed as an alternative to or additional support for medication.
One such treatment is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. TMS can be given to patients who don’t respond to counselling and prescription medications. They can also be given if patients experience extreme side effects with prescribed drugs. TMS has many forms and the responses from patients with anxiety vary. It actually is dependent on various factors:
1. Type Of Magnetic Coil
Each TMS machine type has a different magnetic coil. For example, Neurostar’s coil is a figure-8 coil. This type of coil stimulates a relatively focused area of the brain. On the other hand, the Brainsway device has a coil that stimulates a wider area because of its H-shape form.
2. Stimulation Location
Certain locations of the brain are stimulated based on the illness being treated. For example, clinical trials stimulate the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for anxiety. On the other hand, the orbitofrontal cortex is stimulated for obsessive compulsive disorder.
3. Stimulation Frequency
Clinical trials of TMS usually deliver a rapid stimulation of cortex at the frequency level of 10Hz. However, with anxiety, 1 Hz is used. This is because 1 Hz is known to induce inhibitory reactions on cortical activity. On the other hand, 10 Hz is known to have excitatory effects.
Studies have also been conducted on the use of TMS for PTSD, Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. For example, one controlled trial showed results that the stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at 10 Hz is very efficient for core PTSD.
In another study, they have found symptom reduction for those who have panic disorders. In this study, a 1 Hz treatment was used to stimulate the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Remission of patients was also present in another study. This used stimulation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at 1 Hz. Note: The patients who underwent this study have generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can be a difficult condition to deal with, especially since it so often comes side by side with depression. People with extreme anxiety disorders can have an incredibly difficult time trying to live an “everyday” life. The good thing is studies have shown promising results regarding TMS for anxiety. If you have a loved one who has this condition, you can talk to your doctor about undergoing TMS.
It can be an alternative or a supplement to your loved ones’ current therapy sessions and could potentially lead to longer periods without anxiety attacks. To learn more about TMS treatment for anxiety, give us a call Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.