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What is TMS Treatment for Depression?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is widely used to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Typically, doctors recommend TMS for people with treatment-resistant depression.  

For treating major depressive disorder (MDD), TMS may be the right option if antidepressant medications and psychotherapy are not proven effective. 

Not many people know about the TMS treatment, how it works, its benefits, and side effects, read on to learn more about it.

What is TMS Treatment For Depression?

It is a type of brain stimulation therapy that uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells and treat neurological and mental health disorders. This non-invasive treatment is for people with severe depression and anxiety.

During the TMS, the person receives short, repeated bursts of magnetic simulation, focused on the part of the brain associated with emotional regulation.

How does TMS Therapy Work?

It is a safe procedure with a few side effects, additionally, TMS therapy is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating patients with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

It is an outpatient procedure usually done by a TMS technician or TMS physician. During the TMS session, the technician will place a magnetic coil above the front area of the brain.

The coil delivers magnetic pulses which turn into electric current underneath the patient’s skull to stimulate nerves in specific parts of the brain. 

The procedure needs to be repeated frequently for a few weeks depending on the patient’s response and specific conditions.

TMS Treatment for depression

As depression is associated with reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, this area of the brain is targeted during the TMS session. 

In this procedure, healthcare professionals focus on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex responsible for cognitive processes, mood regulation, and conflict management. Stimulating this part of the brain with magnetic pulses alleviates many symptoms associated with depression.

Benefits of TMS Treatment

Besides depression, TMS therapy helps with other conditions as well. Researchers are still studying the procedure and how it can be used to cure certain mental disorders.

As per many pieces of research, it helps to treat OCD, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stroke rehabilitation, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, nicotine addiction, and multiple sclerosis. 

To date, the success rate of TMS treatment for depression is quite promising, between 30 and 64 percent.

Side Effects of TMS

Although TMS side effects are uncommon or mild after the first session and gradually decrease over time. Some common side effects of TMS therapy include

  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Scalp pain or discomfort
  • Neck pain
  • Tingling
  • Sleepiness
  • Facial twitching

Some of the rare and uncommon side effects of this procedure include

  • Seizures
  • Mania, particularly in patients with bipolar disorder
  • Hearing loss in case of inadequate ear protection during the treatment 

Who Can not Receive TMS Treatment?

It is not safe for a person to receive TMS therapy in the presence of the following implants:

  • Deep brain stimulators
  • Electrodes
  • Stents
  • Aneurysm clips or coils
  • Metallic ink facial tattoos 
  • Metal implants
  • Permanent piercings
  • Ear implants

In Conclusion

This FDA-approved TMS treatment is suitable for candidates with depression and OCD. It works by targeting specific parts of the brain and resetting patterns of neuronal activity.

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