Anxiety or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in medical terms is a chronic mental illness associated with excessive and uncontrollable worry. The condition occurs on most days of the week lasting for at least 6 months.
Some of the symptoms of GAD include:
- muscle tension
- difficulty sleeping
- problems concentration
In most cases GAD coexists with other mental disorders with depression being the most common of all. This makes it even harder to detect and treat the anxiety.
People suffering from anxiety spend an inordinate amount of time worrying. Patients often describe the feeling of having considerable worry right after they wake up in the morning. The feeling of uneasiness will continue throughout the day, even without anything in particular to be worried about.
GAD affects the person in a numerous substantial ways, which includes:
- anxiety is often associated with a poor health condition like obesity
- it prevents the person in enjoying simple pleasures in life
- at its peak, anxiety can directly lead to expensive health care services
Conventional Anxiety Treatment
Some of the existing treatments for anxiety include:
- medications – usually consisting of anxiolytics
- medication combined with psychotherapy
- counseling and potentially cognitive-behavioral therapy
However, even with these available treatments, as many as 50% of patients fail to improve their mental health conditions. These patients continue to suffer from the devastating symptoms of anxiety.
The Neurobiology of GAD
GAD affects the frontal and limbic structures of the brain. It can also disturb some connectivity between these regions. Even though several studies show different findings, the front of the brain is commonly associated with anxiety. Experts consider these findings as the basis for using TMS therapy in treating this condition. According to recent studies, repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is believed to be a promising treatment for anxiety disorder.
Treating Anxiety with rTMS therapy
TMS therapy sends out electromagnetic pulses near the front of the head to stimulate the nerve cells. This region of the brain controls mood behavior. When the pulses are sent out in quick succession, it then called rTMS or repetitive TMS. rTMS is a fairly simple procedure and can be administered in a doctor’s office. As a non-invasive method, it does not require traumatic procedures like sedation or anesthesia.
The full extent of rTMS effects are not yet known but it has been shown to effectively decrease depression symptoms. TMS often resulted in the overall mood improvement of patients.
Even though considered an effective alternative treatment, it also has its limitations. These include:
- Mental disorders that show signs of detachment from reality
- Patients with several years of depression
- Patient had any Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the past and failed to show improvement
Findings of the study
The US Food and Drug Administration first approved TMS therapy in 2008 for treating major depressive disorder. Two years after its approval, researchers at the University of California conducted a small-open label study of 10 patients. The UCLA lab discovered that TMS therapy may also be used as an effective treatment for anxiety disorder. The results from the study show a favorable outcome of 60% response rate for people suffering from GAD.
For more information about TMS therapy to treat anxiety, please feel free to contact us anytime.