Depression is a serious global problem, affecting 280 million people worldwide. For years, medical professionals have been trying to find an effective treatment for depression that can help all patients.
From antidepressant medications and therapy to green prescriptions, many people try various treatments to see what works best for them. Yet, a large proportion of clients overlook TMS therapy for depression.
TMS therapy is used to treat several mental health conditions, including major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). TMS might be the key to curing depression for good. Here, we explore what TMS therapy is and its potential benefits.
What Is TMS Therapy for Depression?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, was created in 1985 by Anthony Baker with the goals of benefiting those suffering from depression. A non-invasive procedure that uses brain stimulation to active neurons in the prefrontal motor cortex; TMS is painless and does not require any direct interaction with the body. This makes it a revolutionary treatment for depression and other mental disorders.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a type of therapy that doesn't need anesthesia and only uses low magnetic pulses to stimulate brain activity. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (repetitive TMS) is another name for this treatment that emphasizes how long it usually lasts, which is four to six weeks. However, the exact length of treatment will vary from person to person.
TMS works because it triggers brain activity in the prefrontal cortex. Why does this help? Most people that suffer from depression or other mood disorders often have lower levels of brain activity, so by triggering activity and stimulation in the prefrontal cortex, TMS therapy essentially regulates emotions and helps relieve symptoms.
How Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work?
TMS therapy lessens symptoms by going to the part of the brain that controls mood (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Electromagnetic waves are sent to this main area, assisting to stimulate nerve cells and commence brain stimulation. Since TMS zeroes in on the prefrontal cortex, it is rumoredto enhance side effects of depression and other mental health disorders such as anxiety.
How Long Is TMS treatment for depression?
TMS therapy requires four to six weeks of continuous sessions. Usually, each session lasts thirty minutes to an hour, and clients attend treatment five days a week. Though TMS has minimal side effects, some clients feel more comfortable having someone accompany them to their appointment until they get used independence.
Who Will Carry Out the TMS Treatment?
TMS treatments are administered by fully vetted technicians. These trained professionals not only set up the equipment, but they also monitor the patient throughout the duration of treatment. If a client begins to feel uncomfortable at any point or wants to stop treatment, they can simply ask the technician administering their TMS Treatment.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a common mental illness that affects the way people think and feel, often causing emotions such as sadness and hopelessness to arise. Other depression symptoms include:
- A lack of interest or withdrawal from social activities
- A lack of motivation or inspiration to complete everyday tasks
- Feeling irritable
- Thoughts surrounding suicide or self-harm
- Problems with work, life, and friendships
- Finding it difficult to make decisions and go about day-to-day life
Depression can also present a range of physical symptoms, including:
- A loss of appetite or increased appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping problems
- A low libido (lower sex drive)
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Aches and body pains
- Delayed motor responses
- Feelings of lethargy
Despite the complexities, it is entirely possible to treat depression. Standard treatments usually include things like talk therapy and medication, but transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) delivers a fresh new alternative.
What Causes Depression?
Most people think depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, but it can actually stem from a variety of factors, such as:
- History of mental health disorders
- Traumatic life events, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, redundancy, or financial troubles
- Childhood trauma
- Other medical conditions, such as life-threatening illnesses or long-term diseases
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Overall health and well-being problems, such as a lack of sleep, a lousy diet, and limited exercise
Though there’s no set cause, major depressive disorder can be treated. As an entirely non-invasive form of treatment, TMS is nothing like other brain stimulation therapies, such as electroshock therapy or electrical stimulation treatment (ECT).
The Case for TMS for Depression
While other treatments for depression, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and medication, can have long-term side effects, transcranial magnetic stimulation is a much safer option with minimal impact on the body.
Aside from potential weight gain and mood swings associated with medication, ECT can be uncomfortable and painful at times. In contrast, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a completely non-invasive form of treatment and is as safe as an MRI machine.
Scientists are still researching the benefits of TMS, but recent studies have shown that it is effective in reducing depressive symptoms. The theory behind its success is that magnetic pulses delivered to nerve cells in the brain via pulses help to improve brain function. This helps to stimulate the brain in regions that control emotions, improving moods for those who have not had success with other therapies.
A Harvard study shows that approximately 50% to 60% of people with depression experience a positive change after TMS, with some even going into complete remission and never experiencing symptoms again.
In most cases, clients began to experience symptom relief from depression after around three months.
Does TMS Therapy Work for Treatment-Resistant Depression?
TMS therapy is a non-invasive, FDA-approved treatment for major depressive disorders. According to the WHO, around 300 million people suffer from depression globally. Traditional therapeutic approaches, such as medication or psychotherapy, are not always practical in this case – when the condition is called treatment-resistant depression.
The American Psychiatric Association has indicated that TMS for treatment-resistant depression is highly beneficial. As a safe, painless, and non-invasive approach, it works well in combination with other treatments for depression, with multiple trials and studies showing its effectiveness.
What To Expect During a TMS Therapy Session for Depression
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an excellent treatment for clients who have been experiencing treatment resistant depression.
Read more: Pros and Cons of TMS Therapy
TMS therapy is a simple procedure delivered by a certified TMS technician on a recurring basis for up to six weeks. However, some people may not require treatment for this long, whereas others may. Typically, a TMS session lasts anywhere between thirty to forty minutes.
During TMS treatment sessions, the following happens:
- A TMS technician places an electromagnetic coil at the side of the client's head.
- A TMS technician measures the client's motor threshold - the amount of magnetic energy needed to make their thumbs twitch - to ensure that each TMS session is personalized to their individual needs.
- The magnetic coil is then placed directly over the client's brain.
- Painless magnetic pulses are delivered to the prefrontal cortex, stimulating brain activity and nerve cells.
Although it may be surprising, it is quite normal to hear clicking sounds and feel a slight tapping sensation during a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation session. This happens because the sound of the electromagnetic coil delivering pulses to brain cells in the motor cortex can be amplified in certain treatment rooms.
In the event that a client feels uncomfortable during treatment, the TMS technician can pause or stop treatment and answer any questions.
TMS Therapy for Depression at GIA Chicago
At GIA Chicago, we help our clients to overcome depression and get their lives back on track. We believe that mental health conditions should not stop anyone from living a full and happy life.
Located in Chicago, we offer a relaxed and luxurious space to de-stress and focus on recovery. All of our clients are treated with the respect and autonomy they deserve, and we work with them to create a bespoke package that suits their needs.
We understand how tough it is to have major depression, so we introduced a new treatment for people with depression and anxiety disorders. All sessions are performed by qualified technicians and are an alternate brain stimulation therapy that is quick and painless.
Catering to a wide range of mental health disorders and addictions, we also treat bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance abuse issues.