Depression is a leading mental health disorder in the United States and across the globe. There are numerous effective methods for treating the condition, with the most common being antidepressants and psychotherapy. Unfortunately, while these methods are highly effective, they do not work for everyone. For instance, around two-thirds of people suffering from depression do not get relief from antidepressants. For this reason, additional treatments for depression have been introduced, like TMS therapy.

What is TMS therapy?

TMS therapy, known in full as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a non-invasive method of brain stimulation. This means that the devices used in this treatment therapy operate entirely outside the body. However, they affect the activity of the central nervous system. This is done by applying powerful magnetic fields to specific areas of the brain. Therefore, when the treatment is used for treating depression, the magnetic fields target the parts of the brain known to be involved in depression. The magnetic field used in TMS therapy is as strong as the one used in MRI scans. As it is a non-invasive technique, TMS does not require anesthesia.

How is TMS therapy conducted?

The first thing you should know is that this treatment must be conducted by a medical professional. Before the process begins, the professional will measure your head and determine which part of the brain needs to be targeted. Afterward, the health care professional will start the procedure by placing a coil against the patient’s scalp. In depression treatment, the coil is placed on the forehead as it targets the part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which plays a significant role in depression.

After the coils are placed on the scalp properly, electromagnetic pulses are passed through the coil to the targeted part of the brain. The pulses travel through the scalp, then the skull, and finally, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The electric field changes the brain cell activity and affects the neural network connected to the specific area.

Note that the technician will have you wear earplugs during the process to minimize the clicking sound produced by the magnetic impulses. The treatment can last for around thirty to sixty minutes. Also, note that you will not need any downtime after the procedure. This means that you can resume your normal activities and drive yourself home afterward. Health professionals recommend that you repeat the procedure at least five days per week for around four to six weeks. The length of your treatment will be determined by your response and the state of your depression.

Does TMS help with depression?

Yes, TMS does help with depression. It works by changing the activity in the cortex of the brain. By doing so, it helps fight against depressive symptoms. According to researchers, depression patients experience lowered activity in the DLPFC part of their brain. The unbalanced activity in this part of the brain results in depressive behaviors like low energy levels and sleep disturbances. The electromagnetic force from TMS helps increase blood flow and metabolism in the DLPFC. The increased blood flow and metabolism restore brain activity. When this happens, the depressive symptoms are suppressed. There is scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of TMS in the treatment of depression through the above process.

Who needs TMS treatment?

TMS can be used for patients who haven’t had luck with antidepressants. Patients that have experienced severe side effects from antidepressants and other depression treatment methods may also benefit from TMS. Children and teenagers suffering from depression may also benefit from this form of depression treatment.

Conclusion

TMS can also be used for treating psychological disorders like anxiety, OCD, and generalized anxiety disorder. It has also been used for PTSD treatment, stroke rehabilitation, and as therapy for other forms of illnesses and disorders. This is proof that TMS is highly beneficial for treating a wide range of illnesses.

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