There’s a lot of information about TMS out there. TMS, by the way, is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It’s currently an effective treatment for depression and its possibilities are constantly being explored. It’s also a non-invasive treatment that helps offer relief to the depressed. Experts describe it as a procedure using magnetic waves. These magnetic waves are targeted towards the brain. The rapid pulses that the electromagnetic coil release do most of the work as far as the treatment is concerned. What the process does is that it releases MRI-strength pulses to the brain through the coil. These are directed at the brain to offer a physical and real remedy to a variety of emotional and behavioral disorders. But how does TMS work? Continue reading to learn more.
What Does TMS Do To The Brain?
The procedure of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is about activating certain parts of the brain. With the help of a magnetic coil, rapid pulses get sent to the brain through the skull. These waves are unimpeded by the skull and go directly go to the brain tissue to normalize activity.
A single burst of TMS also stimulates the visual cortex of the brain, which gives a long-lasting relief. The pulses of TMS also stimulate the right area of the motor cortex, which can also cause the person to twitch. The twitch may usually come from the thumb, but other areas may also get affected and are only temporary.
With the low pulses of stimulation, the depressed brain activity starts to recover. It’s also the hope of TMS to normalize the patient’s behavior. With higher frequency stimulation, the brain gets more excited. More frequency stimulation has proven to be a help for some.
What Is TMS?
The pulses from TMS are all non-invasive, which means their effects have less risk than surgeries and other physical depression treatments. It’s also safe to say that TMS offers a safe alternative treatment for the depressed when medication causes adverse side effects. It’s also a safe alternative for those with negative symptoms of apathy. There’s also proof that TMS offers relief for eating disorders and dystonia. TMS has also been used for people with tinnitus, migraines, and lingering stroke issues.
Level of Effects
There’s much to be expected from this treatment. But, despite impressive clinical trial results, the benefits haven’t all yet to be discovered. Evidence-based practice doesn’t yet place the treatment as the first option for depression. You also need to take your doctor’s advice before trying this method. TMS may not be for everyone. Even if the tingly sensation of the scalp is nothing to worry about, there’s still some potential risks. Many of these risks are still undiscovered, which is one reason the method is usually done only after other options have been exhausted. TMS may be able to help relieve a lot of your symptoms, but the drawbacks may offset its benefits in some instances.
The effectivity of TMS has not been studied enough to make it a frontline effort for depression. It’s still not as recognized as ECT and its effectiveness isn’t yet as widely regarded as well as most major medications.
Still, due to its non-invasive nature and a record of minimal risk of long-lasting side effects, TMS is still growing in popularity. It’s a good alternative approach for the depressed. It’s also a good added tool for those suffering from other psychiatric conditions. The data about its benefits also shows tremendous promise of relief.
With that statement, it’s safe to use TMS as another alternative for mental illness. If you’re planning to receive this treatment, talk to your general practitioner about the side effects or any potential interactions with other treatments you’re already taking.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a simple procedure that uses magnetic induction to stimulate brain cells. This non-invasive method can treat depression effectively as antidepressants or psychotherapy. Usually, doctors recommend TMS for people who haven’t responded well to or can’t tolerate antidepressants medication or psychotherapy.
How TMS Works
During TMS therapy, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp near the front region of the head (the forehead). The electromagnetic pulses painlessly and stimulates the nerve cells in the brain concerned with mood control. When administered in rapid succession, it is referred to as rTMS or repetitive TMS.
Although studies about TMS haven’t yet fully explained the treatment’s effect in the brain, it lessens depression symptoms and improves the patient’s overall mood. It’s commonly prescribed to people who can’t tolerate standard depression treatments.
Not Everyone Can Benefit from TMS Therapy
The machine acts like an MRI and reacts to any magnetic sensitive objects. People with a permanent metal implant can’t receive TMS therapy. TMS can cause those metal objects to move, heat up, malfunction. People who have the following cannot undergo TMS:
- Aneurysm coils
- Bullet fragments located near the head
- Deep brain stimulators
- Electrodes used to monitor brain activity
- Facial tattoos that have metallic ink
- Metallic implants
- Other metal devices or objects implanted in the body ,particularly in or near the head
- Stents in the neck or brain
Preparing for TMS Therapy
TMS physicians usually check the following before recommending TMS therapy to patients. These include the following:
- Psychiatric evaluation to assess the extent of depression
- Physical exams like laboratory test
- Patients with any medications including over-the-counter drugs and other supplements
- People who may have co-existing mental disorder
- Patients with a family history of seizures or epilepsy
- Any brain damage suffered from injury or other illnesses
- Severe episodes of headaches
- other medical conditions like drug addiction
As a non-invasive technique, TMS can be done inside a doctor’s office. It doesn’t require any medical procedures like anesthesia or the like. However, it is best to get a family member to assist the patient during the first therapy session, as they might not know how TMS affects them. Usually, TMS sessions are carried out on a daily basis about five times a week for one and a half months.
The Initial Treatment
Treatment usually lasts for under an hour and the doctor will need to determine the best spot to place the magnets. This can assure the best possible dose of stimulation in the brain. Even though it’s an effective alternative therapy, TMS may not work under the following conditions:
- Psychological problems that show signs of detachment from reality
- Depression that has lasted for several years
- Any Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the past that didn’t work as intended
Common Side Effects of TMS
Many experts consider using TMS as a safe form of alternative therapy. But, it can also trigger some health hazards like:
- Scalp soreness at the site of stimulation
- Spasms or twitching of facial muscles
Serious side effects rarely happen but include:
- Mania in people with bipolar disorder
- Hearing loss if ears aren’t properly protected
Further studies regarding TMS therapy are needed to determine any potential long-term side effects.
What is Autism?
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism affects 1 in every 68 births and about 1 percent of the world population. Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a mental condition that affects how a person interacts with other people and his or her environment. ASD is often characterized by difficulty in:
- Forming social skills
- Repeated behaviors
- Problems in speech and nonverbal communication
The term ‘spectrum’ refers to the different kinds of challenges and strengths that each person with autism may face. There are many types of autism, which caused by various combinations of genetics and environmental factors.
Some of the signs of autism tend to show in children ages between 2 to 3 years old. This means a diagnosis can come as early as 18 months old and possibly earlier for certain developmental delays.
Common Early Signs of Autism:
- Avoiding eye contact and choosing to be alone
- Problems communicating with other people
- Difficulty understanding other people’s feeling
- Has delayed language (verbal) development
- Repeating words or phrases
- Easily distracted by slight changes in their environment or routine
- Has very limited interests
- Doing odd behaviors like rocking, spinning, or flapping
- Reacts unusually to loud sounds or reactions
- Has strong responses to different lights, colors, textures, and tastes
Early Diagnosis is Key in Treating Autism
Early diagnosis is the key to treating autism in young children. Getting the right help as soon as possible can lead the person to living a full life. The main goal of the treatment is to develop the overall function of the person and improve their social skills.
Today, there are several treatments available to help people with autism cope up with their daily lives. These include the following:
- Specialized therapies like speech, occupational, and physical therapy
- Community support and parent training
- Behavioral training and management
Advancements in Medical Science
Today, experts are considering the use of TMS treating people with autism. Even with limited participants, the use of TMS therapy in treating autism already shows great promise. However, using TMS therapy for patients is not likely to treat the overall condition.
Nonetheless, TMS may help improve certain symptoms associated with the disorder. Although it may sound like small progress, it can help in the most important factors when dealing with autism.
These clinical studies discovered TMS therapy can:
- Relieve symptoms of irritability
- lessen repetitive behaviors
- Improve hand-eye coordination
- Enhance social skills
Through these studies, researchers are discovering the effectiveness of TMS therapy in treating autism. TMS as a therapy has fewer risks compared to others and researchers continues to test the method’s boundaries. Today, there are several ongoing studies about the use of TMS therapy and its effect on autism.
Some of the known current studies in TMS therapy are searching for:
- The overall improvement of autism patients
- Considering the possible changes in social skills of people with autism
- Aiming to improve social skills of people with intellectual disability and autism
Several studies show that TMS can lessen some symptoms of autism. However, these studies primarily concentrate on TMS therapy and autism on verbal adults. In theory, the younger brain may benefit more from TMS. Hopefully, further studies can back up this theory.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 350 million people or about 5% of the of the world’s population suffer from depression. The main treatments for patients suffering from this disorder are medicinal antidepressants and psychotherapy. Unfortunately, at least 50% of patients don’t respond positively to conventional treatment.
If these don’t provide any relief, it might be the right time to consider alternative forms of treatment. These alternate treatment methods involve therapy through brain stimulation. To date, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved two types of brain stimulation: TMS and ECT.
Both treatments involve specific areas in the brain which control mood behavior. The two offer hope to people who failed to succeed in antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. But their similarities end there. To better understand their differences, here are descriptions about the two.
Definition of TMS and ECT
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating brain nerve cells. This technique uses a coil that emits high-intensity magnetic pulses. Research has found that TMS can effectively treat medication-resistant depression. The response rates are 40% to 60% higher with remission rates of only 35% to 40%. The average treatment last between 4 and 6 weeks.
Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is also referred to as shock therapy. It involves sending an electric current into patients via attached electrodes. Health care professionals send out an intentional series of “generalized seizures”.
Doctors may recommend ECT for severe depression and suicidal patients. The procedure involves delivering intense but brief electrical pulses through the patient’s head.
Getting the Procedure
Usually, TMS therapy is done in an outpatient setting inside a doctor’s office. It is a simple procedure that does not require any sedation or anesthesia. Patients are fully awake and able to resume their daily routine as soon as the session ends.
Where TMS is a simple procedure, ECT is a bit more complicated. ECT treatment requires series of generalized seizures. Because patients are exposed to pain, they are given muscle relaxant and generalized anesthesia. Patients are also induced into deep sleep during their therapy sessions.
Patients have reported very little side effects while undergoing TMS therapy. The most common side effects of TMS include:
- Scalp soreness at the site of stimulation
- Spasms or twitching of facial muscles
The patient can immediately go back to their daily routine like driving and work upon session completion. There are no memory losses reported with TMS therapy.
Unfortunately, ECT has more reported side effects. These may require observation before a health care professional can clear a patient for discharge. These side effects include:
- Muscle aches
- Confusion following therapy
- Pain in the jaw
- Muscle soreness
- Memory loss
Patients often describe their short term memory loss as not remembering past events from previous months. Some reported to forget what they even ate that morning. This memory loss tends to dissipate over time.
Although ECT has been around longer, experts have found a safer and more effective depression treatment in TMS therapy. In any case, it is best to consult your physician on what will best work for your condition.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or rTMS is a relatively new therapy method. Its side effects are relatively unexplored as are the treatment’s safe boundaries. However, it has already been determined that tissue damage is unlikely to occur, but the therapy can have some adverse side effects. Further studies in rTMS and TMS therapy need to be conducted to understand its long term effects.
Alternate Depression Therapy
As an alternative therapy for depression, rTMS has its own benefits. These include:
- It is an FDA approved the non-invasive therapy for treating depression
- It’s a simple procedure that doesn’t require sedation or anesthesia
- TMS is a proven and effective therapy for patients who don’t respond to antidepressant medications
- As a non-invasive method, TMS does not induce weight gain, nausea, dry mouth or sexual dysfunction
- According to several studies, TMS showed positive results compared to antidepressant medications
- Fewer hospitalizations and doctor visits compared to antidepressants medications
- It’s the only proven treatment for patients who have failed on previous antidepressant treatments
- Patients have a 50% more chance of recovering from depression even if they respond poorly from other conventional therapy
The Side Effects of TMS
Since TMS machines functions like an MRI, it can cause damage to metal and other magnet-sensitive materials. TMS is not advisable for patients who have metallic implants in their bodies.
Examples of these metallic materials include:
- Hearing implants
- Aneurysm coils or clips
- Neck stents
- Bullet fragments
- Implanted stimulators or electrodes
Failure to inform doctors of such implants or conditions could result in serious injury or death.
It is mandatory for doctors to take cautionary measures before undertaking TMS treatment. They need to screen patients for these conditions:
- Any removable or wearable devices that might be sensitive to magnetic fields
- Metallic implants
- Electrodes used to monitor brain activity
- Deep brain stimulators
- Stents in the neck or brain
- Other metal devices or object implanted in the body particularly in the near the head
The side effects of TMS are mainly the discomfort of the scalp. Other common side effects of TMS include:
- Neck Pain
Other Known Effects of TMS
Prescription drugs can impede the efficacy of TMS. Patients taking any medication should inform their doctors. Known effects of drugs when undergoing TMS include:
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears for patients taking bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- Antipsychotic medications and tricyclic antidepressants increase the risk of seizures
TMS as an Alternative Antidepressant Therapy
TMS therapy is proven to be safe and effective alternate treatment option for patients suffering from depression. Even patients who failed on their previous antidepressant treatments can still recover from depression using TMS therapy.
Even the FDA has approved this new method in stimulating the brain as a non-invasive treatment for depression. The therapy can still produce minor scalp discomfort or headaches at the treatment area. Still, TMS therapy hasn’t shown to generate other major health problems. The discomfort is a temporary issue ranging from mild to moderate and usually only lasts during the first week of treatment. Still, some patients report that it disappears after the first week.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is a severe mental illness characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry. The condition occurs on most days of the week and lasts for at least 6 months. GAD affects about 6.8 million adult Americans or 3.1% of the US population. The exact cause for GAD is not fully identified but genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental factors seem to trigger the disorder.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America describe anxiety in adults when they experience at least three of the following symptoms:
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty in sleeping or staying asleep
- Problems concentrating
Other symptoms may include stomach upsets, nausea, or diarrhea. In most cases, GAD can overlap other mental disorders with depression being the most common of all. This makes it even harder in detecting and treating anxiety.
Today, treatments like medications and therapy are often prescribed to people suffering from anxiety. Even with these treatments, though, as many as 50% of patients fail to improve.
The Neurobiology Behind GAD
GAD affects the frontal and limbic structures of the brain. It can also disturb some of the connectivity between these regions. The frontal region of the brain is commonly associated with anxiety and has become the basis for using TMS therapy in treating anxiety.
TMS therapy can give hope to patients who can’t tolerate antidepressant medications or who’ve tried therapy several times but failed to see improvement.
Treating Anxiety with rTMS Therapy
TMS therapy sends out electromagnetic pulses near the frontal region of the head to stimulate nerve cells in the patient’s brain. This region of the brain controls mood behavior. When magnetically pulsed in quick succession, it’s called rTMS or repetitive TMS. rTMS is quite simple and can be administered in a doctor’s office. As a non-invasive method, it does not require traumatic procedures like sedation or anesthesia. It is also non-systemic which means there are no fears of anxiolytic medication side effects.
Various types of research show TMS therapy can help people suffering from anxiety disorder. The US Food and Drug Administration first approved TMS therapy in 2008 for treating major depressive disorder. Two years after its approval, researchers at the University of California conducted a small-open label study of 10 patients. The UCLA discovered that TMS therapy may also be used as an effective treatment for at least some anxiety disorders. The results from that study shows a favorable 60% response rate for people suffering from GAD. This makes TMS therapy at least twice as effective as conventional anxiety treatments.
TMS therapy benefits
TMS therapy can still benefit people who have already tried several other anxiety treatments to no benefit. Even for patients who haven’t responded well to their previous treatments can improve through TMS therapy. Some of the benefits include:
- Greater control of anxiety problems
- Decrease in the emotional aspects of depression
- No major bodily changes
- Fewer muscle pains
- Fatigue prevention
Most studies shows that TMS therapy will often result in the overall mood improvement of patients. People diagnosed with an anxiety disorder can now live in worry-free and productive lives with this treatment method and are recommended to look further into their options.
In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in treating depression. But now, researchers are pushing boundaries to also use TMS for drug addiction.
How TMS Works
TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating the brain’s nerve cells. In a typical TMS session, electromagnetic pulses are delivered on the patient’s scalp. These pulses increase neural activity in the brain. The frequency, duration, and pattern of the pulses varies depending on what is best for the patient. In most cases, TMS is used to treat mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety as well as to help those who have had a stroke or suffer from migraines.
Luigi Gallimberti, an Italian addiction physician has treated more than 300 cocaine addicts using TMS therapy. Gallimberti was inspired by a study of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The study shows how stimulating the brains of drug-addicted rats can stop the addiction.
Scientist genetically modified the brain of the rats to allow their neurons to be controlled. This makes them susceptible in getting addicted to cocaine. The rats seek out cocaine insistently to the point that they can withstand repeated electric shocks just to get to the drug.
Using TMS on Rats
When NIDA researchers stimulated the brain of these rates using impulse control, their urges significantly dropped or disappeared completely.
The co-authors of the study, Antonello Bonci, and Billy Chen suggested that stimulating the corresponding area in the human brain can stop addiction. The neuroscientists believed that targeting the prefrontal cortex of the human brain can offset addiction in people.
Bonci believed that the stimulation of the brain can be done using TMS. This gave Gallimbert the idea to use TMS as an addiction treatment.
TMS Treatment for Addiction
Gallimbert started out with 32 participants to test TMS therapy in treating cocaine addiction. His small study gave him positive results and he began offering TMS as a treatment. He offered TMS for about $118 per session and dropped the fee completely for people who couldn’t afford it.
Soon after his trials, Gallimbert and Bonci conducted another study. The TMS trials for 16 cocaine users in the second set of testing showed promising results.
Sparking a Trend
Gallimbert’s study sparked more types of research using TMS to treat people suffering from addiction. Currently, three studies are being conducted to fully understand the method on drug addiction.
Last year, the Medical University of South Carolina started their first randomized, double-blind trial of TMS on drug addiction. Another similar study in Mexico also started this year headed by the National Institute of Psychiatry.
By 2018, NIDA will conduct a pilot study concentrating TMS’s effectiveness on cocaine addiction in a controlled trial involving 60 cocaine users.
At least 13 million people worldwide suffer from cocaine addiction. Almost a million people are addicted to cocaine in the US alone. TMS therapy is already showing to be a potential cure to treat different kinds of substance abuse. If the current trials succeed, TMS would be beneficial to people with all kinds of addictions, particularly cocaine users.
Drug addiction remains one of the most difficult behaviors to remedy. Traditional treatments hold about 80% relapse rate. After more research, TMS is proving to offer cocaine users a very effective non-invasive treatment fairly soon.
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.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is a simple technique that uses a small electromagnetic current. This is usually, placed at the front region of the brain. Doctors place a magnetic coil on the scalp where the magnetic field can pass safely and painlessly to the nerve cells in the brain.
The coil sometimes resembles like a large spoon or a paddle which a technician either holds or places in a stand in a metal frame. As the current passes, it stimulates the brain region associated with depression. The result can improve the overall mood of the patient.
TMS and Its Benefits
TMS therapy can produce positive effects through stimulating the patient’s brain, including:
- Improved attention
- Enhancing Perception
- Movement control
- Higher thought processes like executive control and memory skills
How Does TMS Work?
The magnetic current passing from the coil to the head stimulates the brain and temporarily alters its normal function. In a way, TMS therapy can enhance mood and behavior by stimulating brain regions that control specific bodily functions.
For instance, the front of the brain is often related to depression. Stimulating that region with proper magnetic pulses can relieve symptoms associated with that illness. The same principle applies when stimulating an area that can produce opposite effects.
Many studies support this notion thus far and have yielded positive results. Because of that, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of TMS therapy in treating symptoms of depression in 2008. Clinical studies show patients suffering from depression range from 30% to 50% of an improvement. TMS therapy has since become available as a common psychiatric treatment.
Nevertheless, doctors can only recommend TMS therapy for patients who:
- Do not respond well to psychotherapy
- Failed on their previous cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Have recurrent unsuccessful trials with antidepressant medications
In order to combat depression, therapy sessions can last for weeks, which can become rather costly. Some insurance companies will cover the cost, though. TMS also comes with its share of issues, especially when taking prescription drugs. These can include:
- Fainting and seizures when patients are taking certain drugs
- Neck Pain
- Scalp discomfort
TMS research suggests that emotional problems reside at an unconscious level but can be triggered using electromagnetic pulses with relatively few long term side effects. Since emotions come from an unconscious level, we are all unaware of the immediate factors behind them. Still, depression is often associated with an area of the brain that shows decreased activity.
TMS, when administered in rapid succession, helps activate parts of the brain associated with the mental illness being remedied. Stimulating these regions can have an immediate impact on improving a patient’s mood. Doctors target these areas by sending out magnetic pulses to stimulate them.
Some of the benefits of TMS therapy include:
- It’s the only FDA approved non-invasive therapy for treating depression
- Patients show positive improvement after TMS therapy
- Several studies discovered TMS therapy yields more improvement compared other treatments
- Patients who go through TMS therapy have fewer hospital and doctor visits. They also need less antidepressant medication
- Even when patients react poorly in their previous therapies, they still have a 50% better chance recovering from depression
Depression is a treatable mental disorder. Unfortunately, not everyone can benefit from traditional treatment methods. TMS therapy can help people recover from depression when other medications and therapies have failed.
This new therapy has showed positive results for patients suffering from ailments such as major depression, anxiety, migraines, autism and more. This has led many to ask about the long terms effects of TMS.
In 2008, the FDA approved Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive method for stimulating brain activity and the regions of the brain associated with depression. The use of magnets and coils has proven to be a safe technique better than any other available treatments.
Lasting Effects of TMS Therapy
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, two-thirds of 120 patients who tried TMS therapy didn’t experience episodes of relapse during the year following treatment. The study concluded that TMS therapy can treat depression when all other paths of antidepressants and therapies haven’t worked.
Treatment can cost a lot lasting several weeks for a complete session, but worth it. TMS therapy is still cost-effective given how depression impacts the lives of the patients. It offers longer lasting benefits with almost no side effects and doesn’t require a host of potentially toxic medications.
TMS is considered to be a safe and relatively painless procedure. That being said, it can cause some discomfort associated with its side effects.
Common Side Effects of TMS
Side effects consist mainly of mild to moderate pain at the site of the stimulation. But will improve and decrease over time after the patient’s session. This may include the following:
- Scalp discomfort at the site of stimulation
- Tingling, spasms or twitching of facial muscles
- Neck pain
- Seizure and syncope
- Ringing in the ears
Uncommon Effects of TMS therapy
Serious side effects in TMS therapy are rare. If they do occur, symptoms may include:
- Mania for people with bipolar disorder
- Hearing loss if there is not enough ear protection during therapy
Before anyone can undergo TMS therapy, doctors need to assess the physical well-being of the patient. TMS machines operate like MRI and have some issues with metallic materials as the treatment can displace or heat objects. Also, electric pulses from the TMS machine may disturb electronic circuitry in some implants. Other problematic objects and patient histories include:
- Metallic pieces near the head
- Pacemakers and other implantable medical devices
- History of seizures or epilepsy
- Any medications like neuroleptic agents
- Patients who are pregnant
- People with suffered from serious head injury
- Any history of substance abuse in the past
- Patients with brain surgery or any medical conditions associated with epilepsy
But there are certain things that the medical provider can do to lower risk, including:
- TMS therapy should only be done under the supervision of a trained and licensed physician
- A medical practitioner should be ready to carry out proper attention in the event of seizure
- Therapy should be done in a medical setting with appropriate emergency facilities
Currently, more study is needed to understand the long-term side effects of TMS therapy. But one thing remains constant based on recent studies; TMS therapy can efficiently treat depression in the long run.