01 Jan Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions to affect people in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 14.8 million adults 18 or older struggled with at least one major depression episode in 2020.
When you struggle with depression, seemingly everyday tasks can start to feel impossible. This is why it is important to seek professional help when you begin to notice the symptoms of depression. Typically, depression is treated using therapy and/or medications that increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in your brain.
While many people find success in traditional therapy and medications for depression, sometimes these tactics don’t work the way we want them to. If you or a loved one has treatment-resistant depression, you might benefit from transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
TMS for depression works by applying a series of magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in parts of your brain. As a result, the symptoms of depression can lessen significantly. It is important to note that TMS is non-invasive, painless, and perfectly safe.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation that uses magnetic pulses to affect nerve cells in surface areas of the brain. Because TMS is non-invasive, that means no surgery or cutting of the skin is required. To perform this treatment, doctors will place a headband that omits the magnetic fields to your brain.
If you are wondering what TMS therapy is like, typically you will receive 5 sessions per week for several weeks. Each session will last between 20 to 50 minutes, depending on the clinic’s specific protocols. During the process, you will sit in a comfortable chair while the device provides your brain with magnetic stimulation.
Side effects of TMS may include:
- Slight scalp discomfort
- Tingling or pulsing feelings on the scalp
- Twitching of facial muscles
TMS is painless and extremely effective. Most people describe the sensations as feeling like a series of pricks or pulses. Oftentimes, you are provided with a neck pillow, a stress ball or fidget toy, and mouthguards in case you clench your jaw.
What is TMS Used to Treat?
While TMS is primarily known for treating depression, it can be used for a variety of mental health conditions. This is because of the way the magnetic pulses interact with brain cells.
The FDA has approved transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD) and treatment-resistant depression
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Tourette’s disorder
- Chronic pain syndrome
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Movement disorders like Parkinson’s, tremors, and more
Research is still being done to determine what other conditions TMS might be effective in treating. With that being said, this type of treatment is not ideal for a person who has a seizure disorder like epilepsy or any metal implants in their skull.
How Does TMS Work for Depression?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is typically used to treat people with depression who have not had success in other forms of treatment, like traditional therapy or medication. According to Harvard Health, one-third of people with treatment-resistant depression experience full remission after participating in TMS.
When you are undergoing TMS for depression, it might cause your symptoms to completely subside. This is because the magnetic pulses produced change the patterns of neurons in your brain that are misfiring, reducing dysfunctional brain patterns associated with depression.
While TMS can cause remission for some, others might find that a combination of TMS, medications, and therapy works best for them. Your treatment plan will fully depend on your specific needs and may be adjusted throughout treatment based on your progress.
How Long Do the Effects of TMS Last?
In most cases, the effects of TMS will become noticeable after 10 to 15 sessions. This means some of your symptoms of depression will lessen within 2 to 3 weeks, as TMS requires 5 sessions per week. However, it is possible to experience some sort of relief within the first week of transcranial magnetic stimulation.
While TMS can lead to full remission for some individuals, this is not always the case. More often than not, the effects of TMS last between 6 to 9 months, which means you might need to participate in TMS yearly to manage your depression. Either way, this is ideal for people who do not want to rely on daily medications to manage their symptoms, especially when they have not found a medication that works effectively.
Get Connected to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression
If you or a loved one suffers from treatment-resistant depression, it might be time to consider transcranial magnetic stimulation. TMS therapy can help you experience long-term relief from your symptoms, if not full remission.
To learn more about how to find TMS therapy for depression, contact Florida Recovery Group today.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): Depression Facts & Statistics, Retrieved December 2023 From https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/facts-statistics
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Retrieved December 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK568715/
- Harvard Health Publishing: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Hope for stubborn depression, Retrieved December 2023 From https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-for-depression-2018022313335