Depression makes a person lose hope, drains their energy, even making day to day tasks difficult to perform. Overcoming depression is not as easy as it looks; it takes time, effort, and courage. However, even in severe cases of clinical depression, it is still possible to beat the illness. The key to combat depression on your own is to start small and continuously feed the positive energy to keep it going. Defeating depression takes a lot of dedication and strong will. Nevertheless, with just simple positive choices each day will really make a big difference in the long run. It might not ultimately be as effective as combining psychotherapy with transcranial magnetic stimulation in Miami Shores, but even the smallest bit of help can go a long way.
One can start with one single decision – changing one’s behavior. Adding a physical activity and shifting healthy lifestyle is one of the many natural depression treatments. The first step is usually the hardest but building a routine from there will gradually lift the heavy fog of depression. Here are the top 5 things to do to combat depression.
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Build a Support Group
Reach out to family and friends; depression is really hard to tackle on your own. The very nature of depression is to make a person isolated and withdrawn from their loved ones. It will get harder to seek help once depression seeps deeper into the person. Staying connected and taking part in the family or other social activities will make a big difference in the recovery. There will be instances in which depression will make it harder to talk, socialize or to reach out, but don’t lose hope and keep trying.
Do What You Love
To better manage stress, do activities that can energize the body. This includes following a fun and healthy daily routine and scheduling interesting activities. Try to remember activities that used to be fun. Go back and relearn other hobbies that may have been long forgotten. Having your mind preoccupied with something else can reduce the symptoms of depression. It rewires your brain to think more positive. It may not immediately cure depression but it can surely lift the spirits and generates good mood.
Get Moving and Exercise
Getting out of bed when depression kicks in can seem like a disheartening task, not to mention hitting the gym. But exercising is one of the most vital steps in fighting depression. Several studies show that exercising is an effective natural treatment for alleviating depression symptoms. Sweating in a treadmill releases chemical called endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for generating feelings of euphoria and happiness. No one expects a depressed person to hit the gym in a rigorous exercise for a full session. Even a 10-minute walk can improve overall mental health. Exercising can also prevent relapse once fully recovered.
Enjoy the Sun
The vitamin D from the sun’s rays triggers serotonin levels in the body to improve mood. Take every chance of going out and basking in the sun even for at least 15 minutes a day. Anyone can do this simple task while taking a quick walk during lunch break, enjoying an al fresco dining or spend some time gardening. Whenever the opportunity comes in take advantage of exercising outside of going for a hike, jog or swim on a beach. Spending time under the sun can greatly contribute to overcoming depression, in the long run, even a possibility of faster recovery.
Stock up your pantry and eat healthily. The right food groups can drastically improve good mood. Also, stay away from foods that affect the brain like alcohol, trans fat, caffeine and processed foods. Eating the right kind of food greatly affects the body and the brain. Do not skip meals especially breakfast this will contribute more to depressive symptoms like being irritable and sluggish. Aim to cut sugar and refined carbs. Sugary snacks including cookies, cakes, and ‘comfort foods’ like burgers, pasta can lead to mood swings. Choose healthy snack alternatives like nuts and fruits.
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.
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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!
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.
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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.
Nothing says “something is wrong with your body” like pain. This primal sensation is what has kept us alive as a species and the brain does what it can to ensure that we feel them properly. Our nerves do a great job of delivering messages to the brain to make sure we are aware that something is damaged.
That’s not always the case though. Nerve and brain damage can sometimes cause the brain to feel pain even though nothing is particularly wrong with the area. One of these cases of chronic pain is called Neuropathy.
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Neuropathy and Pain
There are many cases of Neuropathy and other chronic pain issues. But the most common reason why it happens is due to nerve damage, or issues with the way the brain perceives pain. There are treatments for these, including drugs such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioid-type pain relievers. These treatments are proven to work time and time again, but like all drugs, they have their own share of issues and drawbacks. One such drawback is toxicity due to constant exposure to the drugs. There’s also nerve surgery which is effective, but is invasive and could cut a deep hole in your pocket unless you have really good insurance.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Old Tech, New Ways
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been used decades ago, but not as a form of treatment. TMS was used as a way to map out brain damage and function in stroke patients and patients who suffered head trauma. Recent discoveries in brain function revealed that activating parts of your brain using electromagnetic pulses can “train” it to function better, or at least back to normal.
TMS is basically putting a magnet over your head and using that magnet. The magnet delivers electromagnetic pulses to your brain. The cells of your brain react to these electromagnetic waves. They activating them as if the brain itself commanded them to. The process harmless and adverse effects are both rare and conditional. These effects included motion sickness or chronic migraines. The procedure lasts for 30-60 minutes. These are done daily for 4-6 weeks, but some programs may differ in frequency.
Promising TMS Treatments for Chronic Pain
There are few approved TMS therapies for chronic pain. Progress is increasingly good. Clinical trials with large sample groups have shown that the therapy causes an analgesic effect that gives temporary relief from chronic pain. Further clinical trials explored different frequencies and methods on a multitude of patients. These revealed that electromagnetic stimulation not only creates an analgesic effect but also “train” parts of the brain to adjust to the pain caused by Neuropathy. This could lead to more permanent ways to reduce the pain, or even lead to curing it.
People who suffer from depression due to their chronic pain issues will find themselves relieved of the depression as well. TMS deep brain stimulation can help the brain generate dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or brain chemical responsible for happiness. Solving depression and relieving pain using a non-invasive, non-health-detrimental procedure ought to cause a euphoria more rewarding than any drug.
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.
Autism is a complex condition in the brain which impairs communication and social interactions. It affects 1 out of 80 Americans on average, even more so when you consider the world. Autism has a lot of varied symptoms and severities that it’s called “Autism Spectrum Disorder” to help encompass all of it.
The cause of Autism is about as varied as its symptoms. In some cases, it’s caused by a faulty gene. In others, it caused by chemical imbalances or viruses during pregnancy, such as German measles. Autism is generally detectable around birth, up to the 3rd year of age. In some cases, a person may not display symptoms in the early years, only to dip in development after the 3rd year.
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Today’s Autism Treatments
Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder is generally advanced methods of training. There are also drugs that help manage certain severities of autism like antipsychotics. Ultimately, once it’s detected, it should be given attention as soon as possible.
One problem is that for children and adolescents with severe conditions, treatment is extensive. It’s a long-term procedure that demands attention, both medical and financial. It impacts the quality of life of both the child and their parents.
There is promising hope for alternative treatment. It’s in a form of a special machine attached to an electromagnet. The procedure is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, TMS for short. It uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate specific areas of the brain.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Trials for Autism
The treatment is still in the experimental stage. There’s no government-approved methods yet, but clinical trials all over the world show promise. What makes transcranial magnetic stimulation a novel approach to brain treatment, is how simple the procedure is.
An 8-shaped magnet is placed on the patient’s head. Afterwards, the machine generates precise pulses of electricity that activates the electromagnet. This delivers a precise amount of electromagnetism into the brain, causing the targeted part to activate. The effect is both seen and felt during the testing and mapping phase. In this phase, the electromagnet will target the motor area of the brain, causing the hand or a foot to twitch when the magnet is activated.
How TMS Works to Treat Autism
How it works to treat Autism, is essentially the same way you learn how to do a certain task. TMS therapy will activate certain parts of the brain to “flex” them. The procedure lasts up to 6 weeks, with daily, 30-60 minute processes. With this repetitive process, the brain eventually learns to activate properly and all the parts around the area adapt accordingly. By aiming the electromagnet on the part of the brain that controls communication, it can train the area to work correctly.
Clinical trials have shown improvements in a child’s behavior. There’s improvement in social skills and hand-eye coordination, which are markers for progressive brain development. TMS therapy, combined with proper training could be the key to reversing the effects of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It’s only a matter of time before a proper method of TMS therapy is approved. With promising results from clinical trials and the global effort of researchers, we’re one step closer to fully understanding our brain, and perhaps a cure for its many illnesses.
It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious, especially during times of stress or tension, such as the brief moment when your boss contemplates just after you asked for a raise. Anxiety is our brain’s way of preparing itself for danger. Not exactly to combat it, but to ensure that if we ever fight, or flee, our body is ready to act as best as it can.
When a person starts to feel anxiety outside where they should, problems start to arise. When anxiety occurs outside normal circumstances, and happens for days, over a course of more than 6 months, it’s classified as a disorder. The medical disorder is known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD for short.
It’s generalized because it has a number of causes, some of them unique to the person. It causes restlessness, fatigue, irritability, sleeping issues, and concentration problems, all of which make a significant dent in a person’s quality of life. What’s worse is that GAD is often accompanied, or causes other mental complications like depression.
Treatment via drug therapy is the most common solution, with counseling or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy being the go-to for long-term treatment and recession prevention.
One downside to the otherwise effective ways to treat GAD is the high costs and the possible adverse effects due to the medication. If a person has good health insurance, that can be mitigated somehow, but not everyone has it.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: A New Hope
As the procedure is called, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS for short) is a relatively novel way to treat anxiety disorders. TMS was already in use decades ago in order to map out brain function in stroke patients. They figured that since our brain cells respond to weak pulses of electromagnetism, it could be used to stimulate brain cells to restore their function.
The idea is simple. An electromagnet is placed on top of your head and a machine regulates the electricity flowing to the magnet, creating minute pulses of electromagnetism. The targeted area of the brain is affected by the waves and they activate or at least react to the stimulation. Like physical therapy on a newly recovered leg or arm, the procedure will “train” and “massage” the target area of the brain to work back to normal. These procedures normally last about an hour and are done daily for 4-6 weeks.
The magnetic pulses are set to a low frequency of 1 Hz. Think of this as music. Lower Hz is slow, calm music while higher ones are the intense, fast beats. The low “hum” causes an inhibitory effect on the brain, calming activity as if listening to calming soul music. The pulsing is then aimed at the area of the brain where the cause of GAD is identified, such as the left prefrontal cortex. (The area above your left eye.)
The inhibitory effects showed remarkable results in reducing anxiety. Clinical trials with different experiments show consistent positive results, especially with continued TMS therapy. Currently, the only way to get TMS treatment for GAD is participating in clinical trials, but with solid evidence of improvement on patients, it’s only a matter of time before it’s approved as a treatment method.
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.
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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.