Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): Is it a New Hope for Depressed Patients
According to the recent survey reports, in the United States, around two million adults are experiencing bipolar disorder, a depressive state marked by too high and low swings of mood. Although for such patients there are several psychotherapies, many of them do not tend to respond to them. After the failure of numerous medications and therapies, such patients tend to feel even more hopeless, thus, worsening their state and increasing the chance of suicidal attempt for sure. However, a new ray of hope seems to be in full force for these patients, which now exists in the form of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS, a type of magnetic healing being recommended for treating depression. Many health care professionals have found that magnetic therapy can be useful to treat the low mood cycles of bipolar disorder as well as of major depression. So, in this article, let’s explore about this magnetic treatment in detail!
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS is an evolving treatment for depression that has given a ray of hope to those patients who have sufficiently fail to respond to antidepressants and almost all psychotherapies. It is a procedure wherein magnetic fields are utilized for boasting the brain nerve cells to improve the depression symptoms. It is relatively a new treatment and that more studies are required to measure its effectiveness as well as its side effects, whether short-term or long-term. This is the reason why it is yet to be approved by FDA for a variety of brain-related disorders although it has been approved initially for major depression disorder.
How Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Works
TMS aims at stimulating a few adversely affected parts of the brain via electrical energy generated as well as passed via a coil of wires, creating a strong magnetic field. In this magnetic healing procedure, the energy generated from this magnetic field is passed into the brain through a big electromagnetic coil device placed against the scalp and close to forehead. Contrasting to the direct electrical energy, this electromagnetic energy passes through skin as well as skull for stimulating the brain without pain, sedation, or surgery.
The applied magnetic fields via a portable and portable electromagnetic coil are turned on and off quite swiftly, which results in instilling a small stimulation in the neurons of the brain. As a result, neurotransmitters are released in the brain, which controls the circuit’s firing rate. Based on the stimulation’s frequency, the transcranial magnetic stimulation can inhibit or boost the function of the brain. Furthermore, it can easily focus on the small areas of interest in the brain, allowing the doctor to target a specific region at once without adversely affecting the other.
In most cases, this magnetic therapy is applied to the brain’s front area that is attributed to mood regulation. Just like several antidepressants, it positively impacts the brain’s chemical activity, thus, activating the mood regulation structures, which ensure dramatic improvements in the symptoms of depression.
A more debatable form of TMS called rTMS or Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is also found to be helpful. It uses an electromagnet device that is applied to the skull that is behind the left forehead to instill a low current in the depressed part of the brain. This magnetic therapy aims to stimulate the less active mood regulating track, via an electromagnetic coil emitting 3,000 pulses in one session of 37 minutes. However, this rTMS needs more research and is yet to be fully approved by FDA.
How is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Administered
Just like TDCS, TMS is a noninvasive treatment that needs no anesthesia and triggers no major side effect unlike Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). A single treatment session can last up to 30 to 45 minutes. Usually, the treatment is performed in the doctor’s clinic where the patient is asked to recline comfortably on a special chair after which the electromagnetic coil device is placed on the forehead to create a magnetic field outside the body. Generally, this magnetic healing is recommended 5 times a week. Most experts have accepted that a minimum of 10 sessions and maximum of 30 sessions are enough for improvement.
What are the Side Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS or rTMS might lead to some short-term side effects that are minor and mild. They tend to go away after a week or two of the therapy. Listed below are some common side effects.
- Scalp discomfort
- Spasms, tingling, or twitching of facial muscles
- Skin burns In case of incompatible electrodes
Apart from the above, there are some serious side effects as well, but are really rare. They are mania, fainting, seizures, and hearing loss if proper protection is not given to the ears during the treatment. Furthermore, this magnetic therapy might not be effective in case of:
- Detachment from reality (psychosis)
- Depressive state lasted for over four years
- Failure of ECT to improve the depression symptoms
What to Consider before Undergoing the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Before you take this therapy, you are supposed to discuss with your doctor about it in detail and also share the following details during your medical examination:
- Pregnancy or about its planning
- Implanted devices in your body, if any; as TSM will not be recommended in that case
- Consumption of medications, herbal or vitamin supplements, or over-the counter medicines along with their dosage (carry a list or prescriptions if possible)
- History of mania, seizures, injuries, or surgeries
- Presence of any physical or mental health problems
Are There any Other Uses of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Yes! A considerable number of clinical trials indicate that transcranial magnetic stimulation is effective in treating schizophrenia and stroke after-effects.
Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation a Permanent Depression Treatment
Because TMS is yet to be studied fully, there is no straightforward answer to this question. However, like the other treatments such as ECT and antidepressants, a patient might or might not relapse back into depression once TMS is stopped. This is because this magnetic therapy ensures short-term results and that it is yet to determine how long its effects do last after improvement.