Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly known as PTSD is a mental health disorder that can be triggered by a frightening event either experiencing it or witnessing it. Most people who experience traumatic events may have difficulty adjusting at first, but with good self-care, they usually get better over time.
Symptoms of PTSD may include nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thought about the traumatic event. Without proper care, these symptoms worsen over time, interfering with the normal daily routine and taking away the quality of enjoyable living. Seeking proper medical care and effective treatment after PTSD symptoms become apparent is crucial in recovering from the disorder.
PTSD symptoms may become apparent as early as one month after the traumatic event, but on some occasions, it may surface several years after the event. Medical professionals group PTSD symptoms into four categories, namely: avoidance, intrusive memories, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. As any other mental health problems, PTSD symptoms vary in severity and from one person to another.
Symptoms of avoidance may include avoiding certain places, activities, and people that remind patients of the traumatic event. Usually, patients do not want to talk about the traumatic event.
The most common symptoms of intrusive memories include flashbacks or reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again, recurring unwanted memories, or severe emotional distress or physical reactions towards which reminds them of the traumatic event.
Because PTSD varies greatly, medical professionals find it difficult to know the exact cause of the mental disorder. Although a generalized diagnosis of a stressful experience, inherited mental risks like having family members with anxiety and depression, and the way the brain regulates chemicals in the body can trigger PTSD.
It’s hard for anyone to live with PTSD as symptoms can intensify over time leading to more serious health problems including drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. People with PTSD can suddenly change their behavior when they hear loud clattering or a car backfire thinking about their combat experiences. This often interferes with their daily lives, in severe cases, they can no longer function properly.
How TMS Helps PTSD
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS emits rapid but short pulses of the magnetic field into an area of the brain. It can simultaneously stimulate the inactive or disruptive region while suppressing the overactive area of the brain. The procedure can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with PTSD.
How does it work?
TMS uses repeated strong electromagnetic pulses to change the activities within the brain circuitry. This gives out a direct influence on the brain activity in a very precise manner, enabling an unprecedented method of control over how the brain works.
Since 2008, after receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, TMS had been used as an alternative treatment for major depressive disorder. People suffering from treatment-resistant medications can benefit well using TMS.
During TMS session, the electromagnetic pulses passed through the skull going to the different areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain can have significant effects on mood regulation. Depending on what areas are targeted and the depth into the brain, TMS can lessen symptoms of some mental disorders and improve overall mood behavior. This new innovation procedure can change activity in the brain area and affects the overall function of the brain.
According to several studies, introducing the brain to these electromagnetic pulses triggers the electrical charge within the cells, thus brain activity can be shifted from one state to another. This makes the brain shift from a depressed state of mind to a healthy pattern of neurons. TMS can alter the disordered cognitive and emotional processing of the brain in PTSD, restoring its proper function. In several occasions, TMS can slow down brain activity in motor its region to interfere with hyperactive circuits in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, TMS is known to also reduce activity in the auditory cortex to hinder hallucinations and ringing sensations in Tinnitus.
TMS therapy can offer great help with its magnetic stimulation of the brain structures and networks associated with PTSD. This can significantly change the lives of many people suffering from this mental health disorder.
Experts believe that understanding more of how the brain works and its region can provide information on how TMS can be utilized more in treating various mental health problems. With a better design protocol and threshold, it can build more accurate models and targeted areas to treat more mental disorders.
How it is Done
TMS therapy treatment is administered for a period of weeks inside the doctor’s office as an outpatient. It usually takes less than an hour depending on the patient’s condition. Patients remain awake and fully alert to their environment. Since TMS does not produce any major side effects, patients can immediately go back to their normal routine following the treatment.
Clinical depression remains the topmost health problem in the US and affects more than 40 million adults each year. Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability and is more prevalent in women than in men. Around 75% of people suffering from mental disorders remain untreated in developing countries. It’s a growing mental illness worldwide as pharmaceutical companies race to develop new drugs for the treatment of common depressive disorders. The medical community continues to search for new and safer alternative therapies, which eventually led to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was first developed in 1985, and was considered safe for treating various disorders. It received a monumental step by getting the US Food and Drug Administration approval in 2008 as an alternative treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. As a non-invasive and non-systemic procedure with minimal side effects, health care providers consider TMS as a safe and effective treatment for depression.
TMS is Safe and Easy
Compare to conventional depression treatment which requires taking prescription drugs, TMS therapy has not been associated with undesirable side effects like addiction. Patients will not experience excruciating side effects like sleep problems, digestive problems, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. Most patients can only feel mild to moderate temporary discomfort at the site of the coil following the first round of treatment.
Doctors and experts can confirm that TMS therapy is a safe and effective alternative treatment for Major Depressive Disorders. And because of it’s continued success, there a number of on-going studies experimenting with TMS as another form of treatment for various diseases.
It’s a proven safe technique for all patients; TMS is gaining popularity across the globe. As an FDA-cleared method, TMS consistently show its efficacy in treating other health problems like PTSD, stroke, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorder, even as pain management.
A Good Alternative to Prescription Medications
TMS is a non-invasive and non-systemic technique that has lasting positive effects. Even with patients who failed to respond to previous prescription medications and psychotherapies. This relatively new technique targets the brain area associated with depression. It regulates brain chemistry thus promoting a well and balance activity in the brain.
It uses electromagnetic pulses similar to MRI and precisely targets the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This helps to regulate the mind’s unique electrical activity. TMS can activate inactive brain cells while suppressing overactive regions without the use of any antidepressant drugs.
Prescription Drugs’ Adverse Side Effects
Using prescription drugs and antidepressants may work for about a fraction of people suffering from Major Depressive Disorders. Sadly, the majority of the patients do not respond to these medications and its long-term effectiveness, side effects, and costs are some of the downfalls of antidepressants. But the biggest concerns in taking prescription drugs are the debilitating consequences. Experts estimate about 70% of people who tried alternative therapies like TMS have a better chance of recovery and beating depression, in the long run, compared to taking medications.
TMS directly stimulates brain neurons and in building new neurotransmitters to release ‘happy hormones’ within the brain structure. The technique jump starts the brain in having the natural action of regulating its structure and chemistry. Even without any prescription drugs and medications involved, it does not illicit major side effects of addiction and drug overdose. Patients can undergo TMS therapy without the fear of having to take medications or undergo major surgeries.
Health care providers use TMS therapy as a long-term preventive measure for depression relapse, one of its biggest advantages. TMS therapy stimulates the brain in keeping those newly formed neural pathways linked together for the life of the patient.
TMS Side Effects
There are certain side effects that patient may experience during TMS procedure, but these are just minor health concerns. Since the TMS machine function like an MRI, some of its side effects are related to later like headaches and dizziness. Some may experience slight tingling sensation at the site but will eventually subside following the therapy.
However, patients with metallic implants, cochlear implants, pacemakers, bullet fragments, and the likes are prohibited from using TMS therapy. Patients kept fully awake during each session which may last for about 40 minutes in five times a week over the course of four to six weeks of treatment. Since it’s done inside a doctor’s office without any anesthesia or surgery involved, patients can immediately go back to their daily tasks following the treatment.
A lot of people walk through life battling depression on their own. Some people can hide their depression concealing behind their “happy face” facade, which only makes symptoms worse. People with hidden depression don’t want to admit the severity of their state of mind. They believe their depressive feelings will just go away on their own. In rare cases, it might work. But for most people, depression will drag them deeper into a realm of sadness and loneliness.
Depression often goes undiagnosed, unrecognized, and unseen. According to a study, at least 1 out of 20 Americans suffers from depressive symptoms with the highest rate of incidence being in people from 40 to 59 years of age.
Society often prevents us from talking more about our true feelings. Many of us were brought up not to talk about our emotions, and sometimes it is considered taboo to even mention ongoing, uncontrolled depression. People suffering from hidden depression are expected to deal with their state of mind in a way that it doesn’t make them visible. It just takes a closer look or few minutes of observation to actually see what these people are trying to hide. If you or a loved one has these signs, you should seek depression treatment through TMS or some other means as soon as you can.
Signs of Hidden Depression
Hiding Behind a Smile
People dealing with depression force a happy face and always make excuses when someone noticed their change of behavior. It is important to know that the mental disorder is more than just a mood or phase. Sometimes they appear seemingly happy around their loved ones. It is like a mask that they wear from time to time, but it will eventually slip. Even for a brief moment, you can notice their loneliness when the conversation suddenly stops, or when they are being too honest. If it did, they will always find a quick excuse and readily available stories behind it. They always make excuses not to hang out, go out for a quick lunch or even spend some time.
Unusual Eating and Sleeping Habits
Sleeping pattern is a good indication of both good physical and mental health. When a person changed the way they sleep, most of the time it’s a sign that something is amiss. If a person sleeps for too long, or can’t sleep at all, it may be a sign of hidden depression.
Many turn to food or alcohol addiction to suppress their depressive feelings. Binge eating and/or overeating can make a depressed person feel full. They turn to food to feel good from inside and to feed their emotions. While alcohol can help them forget about their feelings of loneliness and sadness because of its intoxicating effect. In few cases, they may turn to abusing drugs, and the euphoric feeling it produces makes them feel happy. Sometimes they turn the other way – losing all interest in eating, drinking, and spending time with any family activities that they previously enjoyed.
Suicide Talk & Attempts and Joking About Death
A person who frequently mentions death or suicidal attempts is one of the most dangerous signs of severe depression. When someone suffers severely depressed suicidal thoughts and death become prominent. They lose interest in all facets of life, from eating, drinking, and getting out of bed seems a daunting task.
Concentration and Memory Problems
Depression affects an area of the brain associated with the cognitive function. Trouble concentrating, thinking and forgetfulness are symptoms of depression. People suffering from depression have these issues which can add up to their difficulties they need to face every day.
People hiding their depressive feelings feel emotions more intensely than most people. They are easily get carried away while watching a film or break out crying during a particularly sad scene. Others get angered easily about anything, a crying baby or when someone cuts their line in traffic. In keeping their depressive feelings in a box, other feelings leak out more easily. Increased irritability or anger all of the time is a red flag of hidden depression.
Quick to Physical Exhaustion or Pain
A study shows that 50% of people suffering from depression across the globe reported having unexplained physical pain like back pains, headaches, stomach pains, and neck pains. Depression can literally hurt without a valid medical condition. Also, they get more easily exhausted from the relatively simple task. A person with severe depression find it difficult to just get out of bed, they seem to lose interest in their surroundings. They also have trouble finding enough strength to participate in normal activities.
Because of people with depression lose their interest in life, they also become less optimistic. They find it hard to get motivated, psychologists called this phenomenon as “depressive realism”. In a study based on Moore & Fresco published in 2012, “Non-depressed people believed they performed better on laboratory tasks than they actually did, compared to people with depression”. As depressed seeps in, they are less positive about the things that can give them more.
Depression is a very serious matter, it is important to seek help at once to have a better chance of recovery. As bad as the situation may seem, depression is treatable with transcranial magnetic stimulation and therapies. If any of your loved ones are showing signs of hidden depression in North Beach, get them the help they deserve and contact us right if you have any questions.
More than 14 million American adults suffer from clinical depression. According to researchers, by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world. Around two-thirds of people suffering from depression will have another episode of the illness during their lifetime. Existing treatment options often lead to severe side effects. In time these medications will lose their effectiveness in treating depression. These will eventually lead to a lack of adequate treatment options.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a newly found advance treatment for resistant depression. The US Food and Drug Administration of FDA approved TMS for clinical depression that can no longer treat with previous conventional antidepressant medications and therapies. Patients who suffer from drug-resistant treatments and medications can benefit well undergoing TMS therapy.
The medical community approved TMS because of its non-invasive procedure. TMS does not require any sedation, anesthesia on its depression treatment. It’s a simple procedure which conveniently performed right inside the doctor’s office under their supervision. Patients are kept awake and fully alert during each treatment sessions.
As a non-systemic and does not include heavy doses of drugs. Also, because TMS is a non-pharmaceutical therapy, it does not entail any drugs to circulate throughout the body. Since TMS does not involve any medical procedure or drugs, it does not have side effects associated with antidepressant medications like weight gain, nausea, sleepiness, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction.
Initially, TMS was used as depression treatment but recent studies show that this procedure can also treat different brain disorders. Doctors used TMS to treat a wide range of mental disorders like generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tinnitus and cognitive impairments.
Some of the benefits of TMS include:
TMS active a large area of the Prefrontal Cortex
TMS delivers highly focus magnetic field pulses to the prefrontal cortex of the brain – to stimulate the area of the brain associated with depression. The procedure produces short bursts of magnetic pulses through the scalp and it triggers the neurons locally as it targets the areas of the brain. The pulses which the TMS machine produces are similar to what the MRI imaging scan emits. As the TMS machine produces these pulses, it stimulates the deeper and broader area of the brain linked to depression.
An effective depression treatment
Many can attest to the excellent efficacy of TMS therapy. Several studies support the effectiveness of this state of the art technique. During the 4 to 8 weeks of TMS treatment phase, clinically depressed people show a promising recovery that persists into the long term. The success of TMS treatment grows steadily over the years as newer treatment parameters have been discovered along with strategic targeting in the brain’s area. Even for people who undergone electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, they show significant recovery from depression.
Shorter treatment time
The average treatment for TMS therapy lasts for about 4 to 8 weeks. During this time, patients can already notice great improvements in their overall well-being. Studies show that the improvements noted in the patient lasted for several years without any significant relapse. This saves a lot of time and money for both the providers and the patient. Compare to antidepressant medications and therapies, TMS offers a safe and effective treatment for depression.
Other Benefits of TMS
Unlike the conventional depression treatments, TMS therapy does not produce systemic side effects like sedation, nausea, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth. There are no reports of either memory loss or inability to concentrate which are both links to antidepressants.
Several clinical trials show that TMS therapy is an effective and safe treatment for patients who do not respond to previous antidepressant medications. TMS therapy offers very few side effects which are generally well tolerated by most patients. The most common side effect of TMS includes a slight scalp irritation and mild headache during the first week of treatment but will eventually subside.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD affects both men and women of all ages. It has a neurobiological basis regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds. OCD affects people ages 15 to 44. According to research, about 1 in 40 adult Americans (around 2.3% of the entire population) and 1 in 100 children suffer from OCD. Moreover, in a data of the World Health Organization, OCD belongs to the top 20 causes of illness-related disability in the world.
People who suffer from OCD have either obsessive thoughts or compulsive urges that are repetitive in nature. Some may even have both obsessions and compulsions behaviors. OCD is not just having negative thoughts or habits like nail biting. The disorder can greatly affect the person’s performance in school, work, and relationships. Because of the obsessive and uncontrolled behavior, it keeps the person from living a normal life. These thought and actions are beyond the individual’s control.
How to Tell if it’s OCD
Some people develop OCD around their puberty but usually occur during early adulthood. An obsessive thought, for example, is arranging kitchen utensils in an exact manner every morning. On the other hand, a compulsive habit is washing hands for several times after touching something that might contain bacteria. A person with OCD may feel powerless to stop despite its acknowledgment not to do it.
OCD thoughts are obsessions that are persistent and uncontrollable impulses, thoughts, or images that are unwanted and disturbing. In responses to these thoughts, people suffering from OCD still perform certain physical or mental compulsions. Even though knowing that their obsessive thoughts are irrational, they still feel compelled to do these unnecessary rituals. Unfortunately, the reliefs from doing these rituals are temporary; the obsessive-compulsive cycle continues. This often results in helplessness and frustrations.
Symptoms of OCD
Symptoms of OCD include a cycle of obsessive thoughts and a temporary relief of doing so. People with OCD do such behaviors not because they enjoy them but because they cannot control themselves. A lot of people suffering from OCD experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
- A compulsion thought of repetitive behavior or mental act that the person needs to carry out in order to ‘get rid’ of the unpleasant feelings.
- An obsessive feeling associated with the persistent thought that causes anxiety, disgust, or uneasiness.
Causes of OCD
Health care providers cannot pinpoint the exact cause of OCD. Certain areas of the brain have different patterns in people suffering from OCD, but more in-depth research is needed. Based on scientific data, women are more prone than in men. Symptoms often start in teens or young adults. Also, stress plays a big factor in making the symptoms progress. To this day, the biological factor in developing OCD remains unknown.
Several factors can affect people in developing OCD, these include:
- Having symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Family having OCD
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- A traumatic experience in the past
Treatments for OCD
There is still no known cure for OCD, but there are available treatments that may lessen the symptoms. These treatments can help manage the symptoms from interfering with daily life. Health care specialists can prescribe medications, therapy or a combination of both. OCD can significantly interfere with life but here are some of the best treatments for OCD to help keep it under control.
While it is still in the early stages of discovery, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is showing excellent promise in treating OCD as well as all sorts of other mental illnesses. For example, it works well with mental issues like ADHD:
Doctors usually prescribe a type of antidepressant drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. This drug can help regularize the balance of the brain chemicals. The effects of SSRIs can take several months to notice but most people benefit from this drug.
Health care providers usually go for the cognitive behavioral therapy of CBT. In this treatment, the session will let the patient face their fears and obsessive thoughts to better manage them. The therapist will try to distinguish the exact cause of the problem to better address them and help patients how to deal with their stressors in a healthier way.
Some health care providers combine these two treatments; SSRI and CBT. There are cases that patients may need to seek out specialists and other forms of unconventional treatment to better suit their needs.
To learn more about TMS for OCD or to set up an appointment, contact us today!
Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder that affects your mood in extreme ways. One moment you’re feeling alright, then you’re hit with an immense depression. In some cases, you feel incredibly happy, active and energetic and what’s odd is that you don’t remember when it started. Then comes this sudden tug of hopeless void, sometimes enough to make you faint on the spot.
This is not a way to live a healthy life and people with Bipolar Disorder struggle to live their everyday lives. There are effective medications to stabilize your moods, as well as psychotherapy. However, they have their setbacks such as time, costs, and physical conditions that can get in the way of medication. These were the only working methods until Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was utilized.
TMS for Bipolar Disorder
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS for short) is the process of placing an electromagnetic coil over your head and delivering precise electromagnetic waves to your brain. Specific parts of the brain are stimulated over a period of time, normally lasting around 10-20 minutes at a time. TMS is already a proven treatment for Severe Depression, so researchers are looking into how it affects people with Bipolar Disorder.
How TMS Works
How it works is that the coil delivers an electromagnetic wave to the brain. The affected area reacts to the waves, stimulating it. One such proof that it works is that when the magnet stimulates the motor area of the brain, the patient’s arm or leg twitches. The amount of energy delivered is not enough to harm the brain, even after repeated exposure.
The procedure is very much like physical therapy. Think of a part of your brain as an arm that hasn’t moved because it was in a cast. It’s frail and can’t bend much. In physical therapy, the therapist assists in moving the arm and making you grab objects. The same can be said for TMS therapy. The waves activate a specific part of the brain, making them “stretch and bend” like they used to. Depending on the frequency of the waves, TMS can either stimulate the part of the brain or suppress activity.
Treating Bipolar Disorder with TMS is slowly becoming a reality. Clinical trials have determined that using TMS to target areas of the prefrontal cortex show improvement in patients. To make the clinical trial more thorough, they set up two treatments. First is the sham or placebo test, literally therapy whose only purpose is to make the patient think they are getting treatment. The second is the true treatment, where the mood-center of the brain is stimulated.
Further Research Required
The end result of the clinical trials is conflicting. The placebo test yielded little improvements, which was good. On the other hand, the true treatment displayed improvement with patients. The only conflict is that the effects mostly leaned on improving the depressive effects. According to the “Hamilton Depression Rating Test”, TMS made significant improvements in the patients with Bipolar Disorder. This means though TMS has not fully treated the disorder, it made a significant improvement in their lives. It’s now just a matter of adjusting the treatment methods to further improve the results.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is far from being a miracle, but the procedure has opened new ways to understand the brain. These ways are different from functional MRIs which view the activity of the brain in real time. TMS allows us to see the deeper and more subtle result of stimulating our brain cells. It allows us to identify what part of the brain does what, more accurately.
If you break the process down to its simplest steps, it’s basically putting an electromagnet on top of your head. The magnet activates in pulses using a machine that controls both the strength and the frequency. The electromagnet’s activation causes a somewhat loud “tick” sound akin to the sparks of electricity when inserting an electric plug into a socket. The machine generates high voltage bursts that deliver powerful electromagnetic waves. But despite the raw power fed to the magnets, it’s harmless to the receiver.
TMS Parts in General
There are two kinds of TMS. There’s the original TMS where there’s a large electromagnetic coil positioned on a certain part of your head to deliver single pulses. The other one is called Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or rTMS. It’s often a smaller pair of the electromagnet that delivers repetitive weaker bursts of electromagnetism over a period of time. Both of them have the same general parts.
The Electromagnets or Conductors
While it can be explained as simply aiming the magnets, how it actually works is a bit more complex. The magnets are composed of two coils that deliver a “beam” of electromagnetism. The two beams on their own are weak and won’t affect the brain that much. When they cross, however, the combined energy is enough to properly stimulate whichever part they land on. This is how TMS can stimulate specific parts of the brain.
The Pulse Generator
Basically, the machine that generates electricity to activate the electromagnets. The machine comes with a control panel that allows the user to alter the amount of electricity that flows to the electromagnet. They can also control the frequency of the pulses. The pulse generators are relatively large and heavy. But recent advancement in technology allowed development of smaller, semi-portable machines.
All in One TMS Machines
Since machines are getting smaller these days, so are TMS pulse generators. There are commercially released products where the magnet and the pulse generators come as one device. These relatively lightweight devices can be placed on your head to deliver pre-programmed frequencies.
The key to getting the right effect is to conduct the therapy continuously. TMS clinics offer programs that have 40-60 minute sessions every day for 5-7 days a week, lasting for 20-30 days. On average, people experience improvements in their depression and anxiety. What concerns most first-time users are the lack of sensations during the first few rounds of stimulation. Proof that it affects the brain is shown through the muscle twitches caused when the magnet is aimed at the motor part of the brain which controls your muscles. The procedure is indeed slow, which is important as so to avoid causing stress or damage.
A good number of people in the world hear sounds they shouldn’t be hearing. No, it’s nothing close to the supernatural. These people hear ringing or random sounds when there’s nothing that’s causing the noise around them.
This condition is called “Tinnitus” and it has a lot of causes. It could be due to serious issues such as brain damage and infection in the ear or could be as simple as a piece of dirt or ear wax lodged in your eardrum.
Though the causes can be identified, the mechanics behind Tinnitus is yet to be fully understood. There are cases where even if they managed to deal with the cause, the patient still hears random noises. This makes Tinnitus a symptom, rather than a condition on its own. Like a fever, you can treat it, but if you don’t deal with the actual problem, it will just keep coming back.
The most common cause of tinnitus is constant exposure to loud sound. Examples of these are constant exposure to construction noises or explosions. Construction workers and people who serve the military may be at risk of this. The cure is often to decrease the person’s exposure to loud noises. But, it doesn’t work for some people. Some people live with tinnitus for years. This can cause depression, anxiety, and concentration issues all their life.
Advancement in medical science have found a way to treat patients with long-term tinnitus. This process is through the simple use of electromagnets. The procedure is called “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.”
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment for Tinnitus: How does it work?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, can be described as using a pair of electromagnets to stimulate certain parts of your brain using electromagnetism. It sounds simple, but that’s what makes it amazing. This procedure has little side-effects and shows direct results in treating Tinnitus.
During TMS therapy, the patient is sat comfortably in a chair and an operator will aim a number 8 shaped electromagnet an inch or two above the scalp. A machine connected to the electromagnet will deliver precise amounts of electricity. This causes the magnets to deliver pulses of electromagnetism.
The first step is to get you a physical and psychological exam. This is to ensure that you won’t have complications during the procedure and to understand your depression. When the physical exam checks out and the psychological evaluation is complete, you’ll be taken to the TMS clinic.
During the process, they will first “map out” the areas of your brain by activating the coil on certain areas of your head. You may feel a slight ticking in your scalp and your muscles may flinch, which is perfectly normal. When the doctor or operator has determined the right position, the machine will continue to send pulses to that specific part of the brain. I some cases, you may not feel any tapping or clicking sounds, but rest assured that the machine is doing its job.
After about 30-60 minutes of deep brain stimulation, the procedure ends for the day. Patients are highly encouraged to complete the entire procedure, lasting about 4-6 weeks to ensure that you get the best results.
The brain is perhaps the most complicated organ in the world. Millions of neurons communicating in countless ways. They work millions of times per second, all ensuring that you live longer than 2 minutes. Complicated systems also have complicated problems, which often need complicated solutions. Yet as we discover more about our brain and how we can affect it, solutions for problems such as depression, tend to get simpler.
So simple that it involves putting a magnet over your head for an hour or less, every day for a month.
What is TMS?
TMS is short for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. As the name states, it’s using electromagnets to stimulate areas beyond the skull, specifically, certain parts of the brain. The TMS machine consists of the electromagnetic coils that deliver the magnetic pulses and the pulse generator. This is a machine that delivers precise amounts of electric current to the magnet.
What is Depression?
It’s feeling sad, but not the everyday sadness you feel when you, for example, dropped your cold ice cream on hot, stressful day. Depression is an intense kind of sadness that can last for days, even weeks. It can affect your way of thinking, making it progressively worse. It can resolve itself into Clinical Depression, a treatable medical condition.
How Does it Work?
It works by activating a pair of electromagnetic coils about half an inch above your scalp. The two coils deliver a relatively weak pulse of electromagnetism, not enough to affect your brain in any significant way. Where the two waves meet, however, causes a significant electromagnetic effect. The effect is strong enough to make your hand or foot twitch when the coil is aimed at the motor area of the brain. Yet, weak enough that it doesn’t cause any significant damage, even after an daily, one-hour exposure over a month.
Using this targeted method, TMS can stimulate certain parts of the brain. People suffering from depression have decreased activity in certain parts of their brain. Specifically, these are the areas that create or govern the creation of Dopamine, a brain chemical that causes happiness. TMS can stimulate these areas to help restore normal function. Think of it as physical therapy on an arm or leg that has been cast for 4 months. TMS “flexes” and “massages” the problem areas, allowing these parts to work normally when they need to.
The full therapy varies depending on the severity of the depression. According to many clinical trials and anonymous patient data, 4-6 weeks of therapy caused improvements about 95% of the patients. The 5% are those unfortunate to have developed adverse effects. This is either through pre-existing conditions or could not handle the therapy due to side effects such as dizziness and nausea.
Continued therapy is encouraged well after the month-long procedure to minimize remission. Though there are still a number of patients who went into remission after stopping the procedure, TMS still holds a candle when it comes to non-invasive or drug therapies for depression.
Our entire body is controlled by the Central Nervous System. Our nerves are sprawled all over our body, sending minute messages to other cells, making them act. It can be as simple as making muscle cells contract and expand, which is currently allowing your eyes to move and read this. Likewise, the network of nerves controls everything else that makes you tick.
They don’t always work the way they should. In some cases, your eyelids may twitch all of a sudden. This is due to a small deficiency in nutrients. Other times, you might wake up, but your entire body isn’t awake. This is called sleep paralysis and could have many causes.
In terms diseases that disrupt your body’s harmony with your brain, one example is Parkinson’s disease. The disease affects your nerves and Dopamine, the chemical in the brain responsible for “positive feelings” and the smooth function of your muscles.
With Parkinson’s disease, the nerves in your body responsible for making dopamine, break down. This causes issues with the way your nerves send signals to your muscles.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are as follows:
- Stiff muscles and joints.
- Slow muscular responses, or slow reflex.
- Difficulting in sustaining muscle tension, such as holding a glass of water.
- Problems with balance, such as walking or jumping.
No Known Cure
Parkinson’s Disease does not have a cure yet, nor do we know what directly causes it. What we know so far is what can affect it, and what’s common among people who have it. The effect is not immediate and will slowly progress as you age.
With the right treatment, people can live relatively good lives before the disease really sets in. In some cases though, the medication required for treatment could be incompatible with some people.
TMS to Treat Parkinson’s Disease
There is hope though, in the form of a non-invasive procedure known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The process is as simple as aiming an electromagnet on your head and sending a harmless pulse of electromagnetism. It may sound simple, but the implications are numerous. It has been used before as a way to make a functional map of the brain. TMS can also be used to map damage in the brain.
Now, it’s being used for the treatment of Severe Depression and Migraine. There are more conditions already in clinical trial, along with Parkinson’s Disease. What might be the best part of this is that TMS has very few side effects, especially when compared to traditional medication. Additionally, long-term side effects are practically nonexistent.
What makes TMS a hopeful treatment for Parkinson’s disease is TMS’s first intended use. TMS quickly became a way to map out the finer functions of our central nervous system. This allowed researchers to map out the “corticospinal system.” This system is what controls our movements, from the tiniest twitch to the strongest blows. They found out that stimulating regions of the corticospinal system improved motor functions.
Further Research Offers Real Hope
This allowed a better understanding of the disease, and stands as proof that TMS therapy could one day help people with Parkinson’s. Several clinical trials have found that TMS benefits parkinson’s patients and more studies are ongoing. Recent findings suggest that though they don’t have an established way to treat Parkinson’s, the information can guide current treatment decisions and pave the way for future research.
We know you have questions about TMS, how it works, whether it’s a good treatment option for you, and if your insurance will cover it. Contact us and we’ll be happy to help answer your questions and get you set up with your first appointment.