NEURO WELLNESS SPA

SCHIZOPHRENIA & TMS

How can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation help with schizophrenia sufferers?

NEURO WELLNESS SPA

SCHIZOPHRENIA & TMS

How can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation help with schizophrenia sufferers?

THE HOPE FOR HALLUCINATIONS

It has been said that schizophrenia is the most debilitating of psychiatric illnesses. It typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and has a lifelong course. Symptoms can be divided into two categories: positive and negative. Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior. Negative symptoms include loss of full range of emotional expression (blunted affect), lack of drive or motivation (amotivation), diminished capacity to experience pleasure (anhedonia), social withdrawal, reduced verbal output and reduced initiative.

THE HOPE FOR HALLUCINATIONS

It has been said that schizophrenia is the most debilitating of psychiatric illnesses. It typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and has a lifelong course. Symptoms can be divided into two categories: positive and negative. Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior. Negative symptoms include loss of full range of emotional expression (blunted affect), lack of drive or motivation (amotivation), diminished capacity to experience pleasure (anhedonia), social withdrawal, reduced verbal output and reduced initiative.

TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA

Treatment mainly consists of antipsychotic medications. Unfortunately, nearly one third of patients with schizophrenia do not respond to antipsychotic medication. Of those who do respond, a shocking 70% do not adhere to their medications over the course of a single year due mainly to the burden of antipsychotics’ side effects. Clearly, there is a significant need for alternate modalities in treating schizophrenia.
 
Neuro-modulation, a way of regulating neural pathway behavior, is being researched as an effective treatment option for schizophrenia. One such method is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which has been investigated thoroughly in the past 15 years as a possible treatment for both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA

Treatment mainly consists of antipsychotic medications. Unfortunately, nearly one third of patients with schizophrenia do not respond to antipsychotic medication. Of those who do respond, a shocking 70% do not adhere to their medications over the course of a single year due mainly to the burden of antipsychotics’ side effects. Clearly, there is a significant need for alternate modalities in treating schizophrenia.
 
Neuro-modulation, a way of regulating neural pathway behavior, is being researched as an effective treatment option for schizophrenia. One such method is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which has been investigated thoroughly in the past 15 years as a possible treatment for both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

HOW TMS CAN HELP WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA

TMS AS A DURABLE TREATMENT

TMS is considered safe and well tolerated. The most serious potential side effect is risk of seizure, which is extremely rare and usually due to misplacement of the TMS coil. In 2008, the FDA approved TMS (for major depressive disorder), after ten thousand sessions were delivered in a clinical trial without a single occurrence of a seizure. TMS uses alternating magnetic fields to stimulate brain circuitry. When magnetic pulses are administered continuously (one pulse per second or less), there is an inhibitory effect on neural circuits. When pulses are delivered with rest intervals, neural activity is increased.

TMS FOR THE TREATMENT OF HALLUCINATIONS

While treatment of negative symptoms using TMS has shown promise, the most documented success has been utilizing high frequency repetitive TMS to treat auditory verbal hallucinations (AHV). A study was conducted in 2017 using precisely guided MRI via neuro-navigation software. Stimuli were administered to an area in the temporal lobe associated with language. The effect of repetitive TMS on AVH can last from 1 week to 6 months, depending on the patient. Those patients who experience relief can return for repeat treatments as needed. Furthermore, when patients experience relief, they are happy and willingly return for treatment. This is a huge breakthrough because 20 percent of schizophrenia patients experience auditory hallucinations that are treatment-resistant to their antipsychotic medications.

SCHIZOPHRENIA STATISTICS

People with schizophrenia die much earlier than expected with 40% of those deaths attributed to suicide. Nearly 5% of schizophrenia patients commit suicide. Hallucinations number among the illness-related factors strongly associated in predicting later suicide, along with being young, male, and having a higher level of education.

 

Over the past few decades, pharmacologic advances have been made, but even among second and third generation antipsychotics, the focus seems to be on eliminating adverse side effects from previous generation medications. Research trials for using TMS to treat schizophrenia is ongoing. Treatment of this severe illness truly is a matter of life and death, making TMS a much-anticipated addition to the therapy options for schizophrenic patients.

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