Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), is an effective alternative treatment for depression. TMS is drug-free, twice as effective as traditional treatments, and can be used alone or in conjunction with medications and talk therapy.
TMS has been around since the 1980s. It was originally used as a mapping technique to map the brain to determine which parts of the brain are responsible for which actions. Since then, TMS has been FDA-cleared for depression in 2008, migraines in 2013, OCD in 2018, and for cigarette cessation in 2019. Current research also documents TMS to be helpful for bipolar depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment.
What Does TMS Treatment Look Like Today?
During TMS or rTMS (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) treatment, gentle magnetic pulses from a magnetic coil are used to stimulate specific areas of the brain responsible for mood, like physical therapy for the brain. TMS is non-invasive, meaning it does not require surgery. Unlike antidepressant medication, TMS is also non-systemic, which means it only affects the brain and nerve cells instead of the whole body. Currently, most insurance companies fully cover TMS for treatment-resistant depression.
During treatment, patients relax in a private room and are reclined in a treatment chair. A TMS technician positions the magnet over the patient’s head to deliver gentle magnetic pulses. Each session lasts about 20 minutes during which patients can read, listen to music, watch TV or even meditate. Because TMS does not require sedation or medication unlike other brain stimulation therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy. Patients are safe to drive themselves to and from treatments and return back to their daily routines immediately after their session.
TMS side effects are limited and mild, and in some cases, there are no side effects at all. Some patients report mild scalp discomfort or headache during active treatment, easily avoidable by premedication with Tylenol or Motrin. Most patients experience symptom improvement after two weeks of treatment.
TMS for Treatment-Resistant Depression
For those who struggle with major depressive disorder, the neuron activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is commonly dormant. TMS therapy has been shown to stimulate nerve cells to strengthen neuronal activity. The gentle magnetic pulses stimulate the specific neurocircuitry of the brain which is known to be underactive in depression. Over 70% of Neuro Wellness Spa TMS therapy patients experience relief from their depression symptoms.
Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Right for Me?
For years, the initial response to treat mental health conditions has been medication and talk therapy. These conventional mental health treatment methods may work for some, however, they don’t work for everyone. If your medications haven’t made you 100% better or if you’re having side effects, TMS is an ideal treatment option. TMS targets depression at the source, as opposed to medications that can affect the whole body. If you’re experiencing any of the following, TMS therapy could be your next step:
- You’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or OCD
- You’ve tried traditional anti-depressants and they’re not working
- You’ve experienced unwanted side effects from medication
- You’ve felt consumed by your symptoms or disconnected from “who you are”
- Your symptoms are interfering with your daily life or affecting your relationships with friends and family
TMS therapy treats a multitude of mental illnesses, not just major depression. It is indicated for multiple conditions, and more research is published every day. TMS’s magnetic pulses have also proven to balance other key areas of the brain to help relieve symptoms from other mental health disorders including:
- Peripartum Depression
- Memory Loss
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Bipolar Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Peak Performance
- Smoking Cessation
- Addiction Relapse Prevention
- Traumatic Brain Injury