Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is a non-invasive, non-drug, and FDA-cleared treatment with zero downtime. TMS is safe and effective for a range of conditions affecting mental health and cognition. Although it’s still relatively unknown to the general public, TMS is a modern tool that can immensely improve mental health conditions, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety.
TMS uses magnetic energy to stimulate parts of the brain that are responsible for mood and emotion and relieves depression symptoms in return. However, one of the most common questions new TMS patients ask is if TMS therapy has the potential to change a person’s personality.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that utilizes gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for mood. Before your first treatment session, you’ll meet with a psychiatrist who specializes in TMS therapy. They will assess your eligibility for TMS therapy, explain how the TMS therapy process works, and answer any questions you may have.
Next, the psychiatrist works with TMS technicians to locate the area of your brain functioning for mood regulation known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This brain mapping protocol involves holding a small magnet above a patient’s head to correctly identify the region of the brain that is responsible for mood.
Then, you’ll be prescribed a certain number of TMS sessions. A typical treatment lasts 20-30 minutes. Some might also benefit from shorter theta-burst stimulation, which can be done in three-minute increments. During treatments, a device is placed on top of your head that sends gentle magnetic pulses into underactive brain functioning areas.
How Might TMS Treatments Impact Personalities?
When it comes to personality, it’s important to distinguish between stable, long-term traits and temporary mood states. TMS targets specific regions of the brain associated with mood regulation and emotional processing. The goal of any depression treatment is to improve a patient’s depressive symptoms, and while TMS therapy may lead to alleviated depressive symptoms, TMS therapy will not fundamentally change one’s personality traits.
Unlike medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants that affect the neurochemical balance in the brain, TMS works directly, through the stimulation of neural pathways. Medications like Zoloft (sertraline) are sometimes reported to cause side effects such as emotional blunting. Other antidepressants like Wellbutrin (bupropion) have been known to make the user more irritable or angry. These common side effects of antidepressants, although usually temporary, could be interpreted as personality changes, and are likely due to the modulation of neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
In contrast, TMS does not involve medications that alter the chemical composition of the brain. Instead, it stimulates targeted brain regions to enhance brain function. As a result, any noticeable changes in personality traits that occur during TMS treatment can likely be attributed to improvements in depressive symptoms, rather than a direct effect on personality.
In other words, TMS services relieve depressive symptoms. So, as depressed patients experience relief from the burden of major depression, they may exhibit a renewed sense of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement with the world around them. These changes are reflections of improved mental well-being, not alterations in core personality traits.
Moreover, TMS is generally well-tolerated and does not have the systemic side effects commonly associated with medications. TMS therapy can be used in conjunction with other depression treatments like talk therapy or antidepressants. Some studies show that the medications involved can actually work better in conjunction with transcranial magnetic stimulation.
The Bottom Line of TMS Treatment and Personality Concerns
The bottom line is that transcranial magnetic stimulation won’t change your personality, but it may help with symptoms that led to behavioral changes that appeared to impact your personality in the first place.
You may notice things like:
- Feeling happier and wanting to do more activities with loved ones.
- Lowered anxiety that allows you to enjoy more of life’s pleasures.
- Reduction in pain and aches in the body so you can be more active.
- More energy so you can be more involved with family and friends.
Thinking of Starting TMS Therapy?
Neuro Wellness Spa offers TMS therapy at many of its locations throughout the Los Angeles area. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an innovative and promising treatment option for individuals struggling with major depressive disorder and other mental health conditions. With its ability to target specific brain regions and modulate neural circuits, TMS offers a non-invasive and drug-free alternative to traditional therapies and depression treatments. The effectiveness of TMS therapy has been demonstrated in numerous studies, with many patients experiencing significant improvement in their depressive symptoms.
As depressive symptoms lift during and following TMS therapy, individuals often report feeling a renewed sense of energy, motivation, and emotional well-being. These positive changes can undoubtedly influence how one perceives and interacts with the world. You or your loved ones may notice a “change in personality”, but these changes are a reflection of improved mental health rather than a fundamental alteration of personality. Again, while TMS treatments may lead to improvements in mood, these changes are a result of the relief from depressive symptoms rather than a direct alteration of one’s core personality.
Compared to traditional medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants, which can have varying effects on personality, TMS stands out as a safe and well-tolerated treatment option. The targeted stimulation of specific brain regions in TMS does not involve chemical interventions that are known to have personality-altering effects, making it a favorable choice for individuals who may be concerned about such changes.
Recognize that every individual’s experience with TMS treatment can be unique. Some individuals may perceive subtle shifts in their personality traits, while others may not notice any discernible changes. The impact of TMS on personality is highly dependent on individual factors, including pre-existing personality traits, the severity of depressive symptoms, and the overall response to treatment.
In conclusion, while TMS treatments may bring about temporary shifts in certain personality traits, these changes are secondary to the alleviation of depressive symptoms and the restoration of mental well-being. TMS offers a valuable alternative to individuals who have not found relief with other treatments, providing hope and a path toward recovery.
If you have more questions or want to learn more about transcranial magnetic stimulation, give us a call. The qualified mental healthcare professionals at Neuro Wellness Spa can help you find the best treatment approach for your unique circumstances.