Depression takes away the joy of living for those suffering from the disorder. About 14 million adults suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Even worse is that there is a lot of evidence showing depression can have serious and detrimental effects on physical health.
The most common signs of depression include:
- Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
- Poor appetite
- Weight problems
- Problems concentrating
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Irritability or restlessness
- Persistent sad feelings
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
Recent studies show that people with depression or anxiety also have a higher chance of suffering strokes or heart attacks. Additionally, some people resort to destructive behavior like substance abuse and self-harm while in various states of depression.
Treating patients suffering from depression is a difficult task. Antidepressants and psychotherapy may offer relief for some people, but many are stuck in a cycle of treatment and relapse.
There is no definite method treating depression, some doctors can only rely on trial and error while hoping for the right combination of therapy and medication. Unfortunately, as many as 50% of patients don’t respond positively to any traditional methods.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved TMS therapy in 2008 as a depression treatment. This new technique uses magnetic pulses placed on the patient’s head.
TMS therapy stimulates the brain’s nerve cells associated with depression. An electromagnetic coil is placed on top of the patient’s head near the forehead. This sends out pulses painlessly to activate the nerve cells associated with mood control. TMS therapy can lessen the symptoms of depression and improve the overall mood of the patient.
It can treat the disorder as effectively as antidepressants or psychotherapy. The only difference with TMS therapy compared to other conventional treatments is the absence of any serious side effects. People who did not respond to medications and psychotherapy can benefit well from TMS therapy.
Success Rate of TMS therapy
TMS therapy can offer patients with the benefits of the traditional treatment with fewer side effects. The method uses magnetic pulses to alter the neural pathways in the brain that show little activity. These magnetic pulses help reset some of the brain’s pathways.
During a TMS therapy session, patients are seated comfortably in a chair, awake and fitted with a helmet. Patients can only feel a repetitive light tapping on the scalp. Usually, TMS sessions last for about 37 minutes for a period of 20 to 30 treatments over a 4 to 6 week period. After each session, patients can immediately resume their normal routines. Many reported having significant improvements in:
- Sleeping patterns
- Fewer episodes of ‘depressive’ thoughts
Many TMS trials show positive results in reducing symptoms of depression. This therapy is a safe alternate method for treating depression. Due to the high success rate, many people are becoming interested in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy.
One study conducted across 22 medical centers in the US, Canada, Europe, and Israel wanted to prove the efficacy of TMS therapy through a total of 230 patients who failed to improve using conventional depression treatments. The findings of the study show that 38.4% of patients experience a decrease in depression symptoms and a low relapse rate. This makes doctors and psychologists optimistic about the future of this treatment method.
What Causes Migraines?
Up to now, the medical community cannot explain how and what causes migraines. Most of the theory surrounding the cause of migraines points to genetics. Some people are predisposed to having migraines because of their biological makeup. However, insufficient studies about the origin of a migraine make it even difficult to get treatment.
Migraine Treatment Methods
However, medical science has developed several ‘cures’ to relieve symptoms of migraines. These include using:
- Available over the counter drugs
- Supplements to boost overall health and to prevent migraines from occurring
- Application of herbs, ointments, and other options
If you are constantly suffering from migraines, and are tired of the usual medications available, then TMS therapy might be for you.
What is TMS Therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) uses magnetic pulses that stimulate brain cells. Initially, the method helped experts understand how the brain works. But recent studies show that it can help treat depression and other mental conditions like autism and anxiety.
TMS therapy in a migraine usually comes in a handheld portable device and you can place it on your head. This device will send out magnetic pulses through the skin with a single press of a button. The pulses from the machine can vary from single pulse (sTMS) to repeated pulses (rTMS). You can also customize the strength, frequency, and duration of the pulses.
Can TMS Treat Migraines?
Single pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS) is a unique method of treating acute migraines. Previous studies show that sTMS helps decrease symptoms of migraines. sTMS can work without medication and has practically no serious side effects. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has even approved TMS therapy in treating and preventing migraines.
There are only a handful of studies about TMS therapy in treating migraines, though. But most of them have concluded that TMS is a safe and effective alternative treatment for reducing, preventing, and treating migraine symptoms and their intensity.
Common Side Effects
Common side effects of TMS are mostly mild to moderate and may include:
- Scalp discomfort
- Twitching of facial muscles
- Worsening of migraines
- Tingling sensations
- Sleepiness during treatment sessions
Serious Side Effects of sTMS
Serious side effects from sTMS are rare but when they occur, they can include the following:
- Inflamed sinuses (sinusitis)
- Difficulty in speaking or comprehension
- Feeling unusually energetic or “wired”
- Mania for people with bipolar disorder
That being said, sTMS may also not be appropriate for you if you have a family history of epilepsy or seizures. Do not use or undergo sTMS therapy if you have the following:
- Metal in or near your head, neck, or upper body
- Bullet fragments near the head
- Facial tattoos
- Ear implants
TMS machine acts like MRI and can affect metallic objects. These metallic components can malfunction, heat up, or move during treatment.
If you’ve tried all various medications to prevent and cure migraines, then it might be time to try TMS. This new method doesn’t produce serious side effects and very safe to use. It’s a proven method in people who can no longer tolerate taking drugs to relieve pain associated with migraines.
What is TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique of stimulating the brain to relieve the symptoms of depression. This method involves placing a small wire coil over the scalp and inducing a current through the coil. The current produces magnetic pulses that can penetrate the scalp through the brain.
TMS therapy is conducted under several stimulation factors, which include:
- Pulse duration
- Stimulation site
When pulsed in rapid succession, it is called repetitive TMS or rTMS. rTMS can either increase or decrease the activity of the brain depending on the patient’s needs. As a simple procedure, TMS therapy occurs in outpatient settings inside a clinic. It also doesn’t require any major procedures like those requiring anesthesia or sedation.
Health Insurance Coverage
Before receiving TMS therapy, it is best to contact your health insurance provider. These services may or may be covered by them. Today, most health insurance companies are becoming a little more dynamic on their policies and may give leeway as far as covering TMS therapy is concerned.
Here some of the guidelines for TMS therapy coverage. Take note though, this may vary according to your health care plan.
Some healthcare insurance companies consider TMS therapy to be a medical necessity in adults who suffer major depressive disorder. But you may need to first meet the following conditions:
- Antidepressants failed to provide any improvement with at least four trials
- You do not respond to any medications in your current condition
- You tried different evidence-based therapies with at least two trials
- Inability to tolerate any antidepressant medications in the past – you clearly showed adverse effects to these medications
- Unable to tolerate electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- Tried several available therapies for your depression but failed over and over again
Furthermore, it should be noted that:
- TMS therapy should only be conducted in an FDA approved clinic and administered by a licensed physician in a safe and effective manner
- A licensed physician should write your recommendation for TMS therapy. The doctor needs to review and examine your record thoroughly
- A licensed physician should be present during the sessions
Under no circumstances that you can undergo TMS therapy if you have any of the following:
- Aneurysm coils
- Bullet fragments located near the head
- Deep brain stimulators
- Electrodes used to monitor brain activity
- Facial tattoos with metallic ink
- Metallic implants
- Other metal devices or object implanted in the body particularly in the near the head
- Stents in the neck or brain
Once cleared, you should expect TMS therapy to run about five times a week for 6 weeks. Therapy typically last for about 60 minutes inside your doctor’s office. It may take a little longer during the initial treatment as doctors need to place the coil in the correct spots. This will guarantee the best possible stimulation of the brain to relieve symptoms of depression.
However, even with positive results from studies, TMS therapy may not work under the following conditions:
- Psychological problems that show signs of detachment from reality
- Depression that sets in for several years
- Any Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in the past has not worked to improve mood or behavior
Corresponding ICD 10 Codes
Whether for an insurance claim or billing processes, you may also need to have these ICD 10 codes handy:
For Major depressive disorder, single episode, severe without psychotic features
For Major depressive disorder, recurrent severe without psychotic features
If you have any questions or concerns or would like assistance dealing with your insurance provider, feel free to contact us for assistance.
TMS Use in Various Diseases
For more than two decades, researchers have been exploring TMS therapy for the treatment of several mental problems. In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed the usage of TMS therapy for treating depression. TMS therapy can improve mood and behavior for patients suffering from mental illnesses. Usually, this method is used on people who do not respond well to medications or more traditional therapies.
The FDA approval is a good indicator that the treatment can effectively help patients. TMS can stimulate the brain cells associated with mood control. However, TMS doesn’t yet have FDA approval in treating autism.
Early Stages of Research for TMS Therapy and Autism
Although have shown that TMS therapy can cure depression, the use of it for several mental disorders is still in its infancy. Today, there is no scientific data for using TMS treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, there are many journal articles that cover TMS use for autism. Still, these studies are either theoretical or review articles based on previous research studies.
Several of these studies have clinical trials, but participants range from one up to 27 people. Taken together the studies have less than 200 participants total. Nevertheless, these studies show positive results in treating the disorder. Several kinds of research also show results that TMS can also help patients in:
- Undergoing movement rehabilitation after a stroke
- Decreasing symptoms of schizophrenia
- Relieving symptoms of anxiety
It is important to note that the FDA does not have any certification of TMS therapy for these physical and mental conditions.
Even with limited participants, the use of TMS therapy in treating autism shows great promise. Using TMS therapy in autism patients is not likely to treat the overall condition of the patient. But it may help enhance certain symptoms associated with the disorder.
These clinical studies discovered that TMS therapy can:
- Relieve symptoms of irritability for autism patients
- Lessen repetitive behaviors
- Improve eye-hand coordination associated with autism disability
- Enhance social skills of autism patients
Current TMS Studies
With these studies, researchers still can’t pinpoint which symptoms are more responsive to TMS therapy. But this does not stop researchers from discovering the other uses of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
TMS therapy has fewer risk compared to other treatments, researchers continue to test the method’s boundaries. Today, there are several ongoing studies about the use of TMS therapy for treating patients with autism.
Some of the known current studies in TMS therapy search for:
- Overall improvement of autism patients
- Considering the possible changes in social skills of people with autism
- Aiming for improving social skills of people with intellectual disability and autism.
What These Results Mean
Although several studies suggested that TMS can lessen some symptoms of autism, they don’t prove that it can treat the disorder. For now, it is still too early to conclude whether TMS can help autism patients, especially if the FDA doesn’t acknowledge much of it.
Currently, studies regarding TMS therapy and autism concentrate on verbal adults. But in theory, a younger brain may benefit more from TMS. However, research need to focus on larger group studies that target verbal and nonverbal patients including children.
Further studies and meticulous research are needed to back up the many theories about TMS therapy and autism.