Depression lessens the quality of life of those who are suffering from it. Many people turn to conventional methods of treatment in the hopes of having their conditions improved. However, not everyone benefits from them.
Fortunately, TMS therapy offers a safe alternative. It is an effective method for people who were unsuccessful with antidepressant medications and traditional therapy.
What is TMS therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate brain cells. In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS therapy to treat symptoms of depression. But, the principle behind TMS has been around for a century. Michael Faraday, a British scientist discovered the use of electromagnetic induction in 1831.
TMS therapy can treat symptoms of depression as efficiently as antidepressant medications or psychotherapy in many cases. Still, doctors only recommend using this technique for those who can’t tolerate medications or who’ve on their previous therapy attempts.
How TMS Works
During a TMS therapy session, doctors will place an electromagnetic coil on the scalp near the forehead. The current from the coil painlessly stimulates brain cells associated with mood control. Nontheless, not everyone can undergo TMS therapy; there are certain limitations about this new treatment method.
TMS machines act like an MRI. They react to any metallic or magnetic sensitive objects. That being the case, they can cause metallic objects to heat up, move, and malfunction. People who have the following implanted on their body are prohibited to take TMS therapy.
- Aneurysm coils
- Bullet fragments or shrapnel located near the head
- Deep brain stimulators
- Electrodes used to monitor brain activity
- Facial tattoos with metallic ink
- Metallic implants in the body
Once a doctor or a TMS technician places the electromagnetic coil, the session will start immediately. The machine will send out current from the scalp going into the brain to stimulate the inactive area. This will increase activity in regions of the brain associated with depression, resulting in improved mood.
Different Frequencies of TMS
Administering single pulse of TMS to the patient’s head is very safe. TMS machines are capable of delivering high-frequency from 1 to 50 Hz in quick succession or rTMS. This can produce seizures in some people. However, safety measures of manipulating the frequency, intensity and duration can prevent this problem.
High-frequency TMS therapy goes about 5 to 10 Hz and is a powerful stimulus that produces a short period of inhibition in space and time. Because of limited studies about high-frequency TMS, there are no exact records of what it can do yet. Some studies show that 5, 17 or 20 Hz stimulation has an anti-depressant effect. But the high frequency of 10 Hz in rTMS therapy is the most used and yields more positive results.
Using different rates in rTMS is important in the frequencies used as it can increase or decrease activity in the brain.
rTMS at slow rates
- About 0.2 and 1 Hz, will cause a decrease in brain excitability.
rTMS at faster rates
- approximately 5 Hz or faster, will cause an increase in brain excitability
For more information, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.