TMS Therapy for Depression: Is it Successful?

TMS therapy for depression

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Depression affects 264 million people worldwide, meaning 3.4 percent of the population is depressed. If you’ve been struggling with depression and have tried medication and counseling, TMS treatment may be a great option for you.

Scientists have been able to find, however, that depression is caused by an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitters. This also means that the brain activity in a depressed person is reduced compared to someone who does not have depression.

There are various treatments, therapies, and medications available to anyone with a mental illness. Consider that each person’s body reacts differently to medication and treatment so although something may be extremely effective for one person it may not be as effective for someone else. TMS has become a leading treatment for depression with a higher success rate than most medications.

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What is TMS?

First, we must understand what TMS is. TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation, meaning it is brain stimulation therapy. It uses electromagnetic pulses to communicate with nerve cells and stimulates them. Since depression causes reduced brain activity, TMS therapy aims to increase that brain activity. It is a non-invasive treatment and is meant for use in people who have not had success with psychotherapy and medication.

It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008. It can sometimes be referred to as rTMS due to repetitive electrical impulses. The two terms are often used interchangeably so do not be frightened if you hear them used as such. Although it is primarily used to treat depression there is some evidence to suggest that it may be able to help other disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and anxiety. 

TMS is different than prescription depression treatment

Medication management has been a long term solution for depression, but it doesn’t always work. When pharmaceutical intervention and talk therapy fails, TMS treatment can be a great option. In fact, many individuals do not respond to medication very well. TMS is non invasive, which makes it different from ECT therapy as well.

How Does TMS Work?

TMS therapy is a bit of a long process depending on how you respond to treatment. One benefit is that it is an outpatient procedure so you will be able to go home after each session and there is no need to spend any time in a hospital or clinic overnight. The procedure will need to be done five days a week and can last between four to six weeks depending on the state of your depression and how well you respond to treatment. The procedure is a five-step process and it will require you to remove all jewelry and remove any items that can be sensitive to magnets. 

After removing all magnetic attracting items the technician will give you earplugs to reduce the noise caused by the magnetic impulses. You will be awake for the entire procedure. The technician will then measure your head and determine where the coils will be placed. They will then place the coils above the front area of your brain. This is when the treatment begins and you will begin to feel a knocking sensation beneath the magnetic coils as well as a tapping sensation. The process will last anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes

Benefits of TMS

AS we mentioned previously TMS is proven to help depression but it is also being researched in helping other condition such as:

  • OCD
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Stroke rehabilitation 
  • Schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Multiple sclerosis

It may soon become the go-to treatment for these conditions but for now, we will focus on the benefits it has regarding depression. Ass we mentioned, depression reduced brain activity in the prefrontal cortex causing low energy levels and appetite changes. TMS stimulates those nerve cells and increases activity. This means you may begin to have a large appetite and more energy. 

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If you are struggling, we are here to help! 

When is TMS Used?

TMS therapy is typically used for patients who have been unable to find relief from other treatments like psychotherapy and education. This is typically referred to as treatment-resistant depression and affects 30 percent of people with depression. A few things to keep in mind that may qualify you for TMS treatment are:

  • Have used antidepressants without results
  • Are a child or teenager
  • Experience negative side effects upon using antidepressants

Who Cannot Use TMS?

Although TMS is safe, as with most things in life it is not for everyone and there are several people who should avoid this treatment. Patients who should avoid using TMS are:

  • Anyone with metal in their head
  • Anyone taking stimulants
  • Have a history with epilepsy or seizures
  • Anyone with a medical condition that increases the possibility of a seizure

Braces and dental fillings are not considered a deterrent for TMS treatment. The main reason no one who has a metal implant should receive TMS treatment is that the magnetic fields from the TMS can make the implants heat up and even move which can lead to a much more serious injury. 

Possible Side Effects Of TMS

As with most medical treatments, there are possible side effects you should be aware of before choosing to undergo TMS therapy. It has been found that these are uncommon but they should be kept in mind:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Scalp pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sleepiness
  • Facial twitching
  • Mild headaches (common side effect)
  • Altered cognition during treatment

Headaches and lightheadedness are the most common side effects and they typically go away after the first few treatments. There is also a 0.01 percent chance of developing seizures. You should discuss the risk with your doctor before opting for TMS therapy. 

Costs of TMS

The costs are high for TMS therapy ranging from six thousand to $12 thousand dollars that will come out of pocket. Health insurance providers may cover treatment depending on your medical history. They may require you to try four antidepressants before offering coverage or if you experience negative side effects while using antidepressants. Medicare can cover TMS if psychotherapy and medication did not work for you previously. This can be a big investment and risk but it can also be worth it for many individuals struggling with depression. 

TMS Success Rate

TMS therapy has an incredibly high success rate between 70 percent and 80 percent. This means that most patients find relief after the treatment. It has been found that  50 percent of people will be incomplete depression remission after just one course of treatment. Suffering from a mental illness is not easy and making the choice to seek medication as a form of treatment can sometimes make things worse. Often, patients will try on average four different medications before finding one that brings any type of relief.

Now, it takes one to two months to determine whether or not a medication is effective in a person. So if a person will try four medications this will have them spending anywhere from four to eight months trying different medications. This process of trial and error brings with it many downsides and some patients can even fall into a deeper depression as they tend to feel that there is nothing that can help them. Other side effects of constant medication changes include:

  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Agitation
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Irritability

Many patients who are resistant to these medications can find a much higher success rate using TMS therapy. It has been found that two-thirds of clinical patients had success using TMS therapy. 

Get Help At BasePoint Psychiatry Today

If you are struggling, we are here to help! 

Schedule an Appointment for TMS Therapy Today

Depression can change the way you live your life completely but you don’t have to let it. Contact BasePoint Psychiatry & Wellness today to schedule an appointment and tackle your mental illness head-on. Our experienced and caring team can help diagnose and treat your mental health issues so that you can focus on your overall health accordingly.

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