Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an FDA approved treatment for depression that is non-invasive and safe. TMS involves the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in targeted regions of the brain, which then helps to alleviate symptoms associated with depression.
In addition to effectively treating depression, especially among those who have not seen improvement with medication, TMS is now used in treating anxiety.
What Is TMS?
TMS, also called rTMS, is a pain-free procedure that uses repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to enhance brain activity. TMS has been used since the 1980s to treat depression and anxiety by stimulating the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). neurons are stimulated with medical pulses delivered via a magnetic coil.
With recent medical advancements, techniques, and safety measures, the probability of a seizure or loss of consciousness occurring is less than 0.1%. Also, there are few side effects associated with this procedure so that people can resume their daily routine directly afterwards.
Each treatment session is around forty minutes long, and those receiving TMS generally undergo the procedure four or five times per week for a duration of four to six weeks.
How Does TMS Treat Anxiety?
Excessive worry and stress are common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is caused by hyperactivity in the amygdala. The amygdala plays an essential role in processing emotions, especially during stressful or life-threatening situations, which may trigger the fight or flight response. Transcranial magnetic stimulation can effectively treat anxiety by returning neurons to normal activity levels.
TMS Therapy for Anxiety- Does TMS Work for Anxiety?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment is not only used to treat depression, but behavioral health conditions as well, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in America, with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affecting 6.8 million adults every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Even though research on anxiety is still relatively limited, doctors have seen a lot of success in using TMS to treat it. This provides a sense of hope for millions of Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders.
GAD is characterized by persistent and excessive stress or worries about various things. It is most common in childhood and middle age and can become debilitating at times, stopping people from taking part in activities, getting jobs, and forming relationships, among other things.
Symptoms of GAD include, but are not limited to:
-Feeling nervous, irritable, or on edge
-Feeling an impending danger, doom, or panic
-Increased heart rate
-Rapid breathing or even hyperventilation
-Sweating or trembling
-Feeling weak or tired
-Experiencing difficulty concentrating
-Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
Effectiveness of TMS
Although transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is most often associated with treating major depressive disorder, it has recently been approved by the FDA to treat OCD as well. The success rate for TMS in terms of reducing symptoms for those suffering from depression is encouraging, sitting between 30 and 64%. However, additional research is needed to determine the success rate for other medical conditions, such as anxiety.
TMS therapy, much like other forms of treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and anti-anxiety medication, does not work for everyone. In fact, 30% of people with depression that doesn't respond to medicine don't see results from CBT or other medications. Nearly half of those in America who are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and so it is important to consider that both of these conditions can go hand-in-hand.
Although TMS therapy for anxiety is mostly new, the current research looks promising. Also, there are hardly any side effects that come with this treatment in comparison to other anxiolytic medications. Nausea, indigestion and agitation - which are often experienced when taking anxiety medication - can be avoided by using TMS as your go-to treatment method.
Moreover, studies have shown noteworthy improvement for people diagnosed with anxious depression or depression and comorbid anxiety. In cases such as these, both depression and anxiety disorder symptoms are reduced through TMS treatment.
Side Effects of TMS
One of the most common side effects for those receiving TMS therapy is temporary discomfort in the treatment area, although this usually only lasts during the first week.
Clients typically feel a very light tapping on their heads during the treatment session. Clients also report hearing clicking sounds from the magnetic coil that the health professional administers during TMS treatment.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation side effects are extremely uncommon.
Can TMS Make Anxiety Worse?
Although a few studies show that anxiety might increase during TMS sessions for depression treatment, this is not a known side effect of TMS. In fact, the vast majority of people feel more calm and capable to handle stressors after therapy.
Results from a trial in 2011 exhibited that people with panic disorder reported that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation caused higher anxiety levels. However, there has not been any conclusive evidence to list anxiety as a side effect of TMS.
If clients begin suffering from intense anxiety symptoms when they commence TMS treatment, they are advised to speak to a doctor. Related: TMS saved my life from anxiety
TMS is an effective treatment for people living with mental health issues due to targeting the activity of nerve cells in the brain, which may alleviate depression symptoms. It is also a promising treatment for anxiety conditions and other disorders, like OCD and PTSD.
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation may even be helpful for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease.
While many insurance providers do not cover TMS for anxiety yet, insurance for clients who have a dual diagnosis of depression and anxiety may cover TMS therapy.