Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Treating Depression
TMS is a type of magnetic therapy for treating depression. This technique has been found to be successful at treating depression in many patients, and has been conclusively verified to achieve positively results in a number of scientific studies.
This treatment has been shown to particularly be successful for treating depression in patients who have not previously responded well to traditional forms of treatment, such as using antidepressants. For many people, these medications have little or no impact on their illness. As a result, many people who suffer from depression end up in and out of hospitals as they unsuccessfully battle with their depression.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses pulses of magnetic energy on a specific region of the brain where depression triggers are thought to be centered. Studies carried out have shown that the technique has worked for between 50% and 70% of depression patients who have tried it.
It is estimated that between 10% and 30% of people who suffer from clinical depression are either partially, or completely, resistant to drug therapies, and researchers are hopeful that this new magnetic healing method will be able to provide an effective treatment for these people.
How Does TMS Work?
TMS involves applying a magnetic field to a patient’s brain using a coil which is positioned over the scalp. Before the treatment begins, this coil is aligned with the patient’s left prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain most associated with mood-related disorders. The treatment area is only about the size of a quarter.
A brief magnetic pulse is transmitted through the scalp to ensure that the right area is being targeted for treatment. If the correct region is being targeted, the patient’s right thumb will twitch. The device is then aimed 5 centimeters forward from this spot.
Then, the patient receives around 3,000 pulses a minute from the device. The treatment last about 40 minutes and is repeated five times a week for a period of six weeks. The device beams the magnetic field in a series of rapid 10 second pulses. At the conclusion of the treatment series, patients are assessed for improvement.
Nobody yet completely understands how TMS works to relieve depression. However, many physicians and researchers suspect that it the therapy acts to stimulate electrical activity in the area of the brain affected by depression. It is also believed that stimulating brain cells in the prefrontal cortex triggers a chain reaction that, in turn, stimulates deeper brain regions involved with mood. People who suffer from depression tend to display less electrical activity in this region than people who are not depressed, and research indicates that the magnetic pulse waves cause an increase.
What are the Benefits of TMS for Depression?
TMS has a number of important benefits. First, it is a very simple and painless procedure that doesn’t induce patients to have a fit (which can happen when using ECT – electro-convulsive therapy). Second, because there is no need to use general anesthesia, a large medical team isn’t needed on hand. Third, there have been few reported side-effects, although some patients have reported a sensation similar to a finger flicking against the side of their head. Others have have reported getting mild headaches.