Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 17 million adults suffered a major depressive episode in 2017. Not surprisingly, there are many ways to combat depression, the most common being therapy, and prescription anti-depressant medications.
But what if this first line of defense fails? What if, despite session after session of therapy or various combinations of medications, depression persists? In this case, there are more intensive methods available, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
But what is TMS? How does it work? And how do you know if it’s the right treatment for your loved one?
What Is TMS and How Does It Work?
TMS is a non-invasive treatment for depression. During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the patient’s scalp. The coil creates a magnetic field. This field stimulates brain cells in the area causing depressive symptoms. Sessions last from 30 to 60 minutes and are completely painless, although some scalp irritation and minor headaches may occur following treatment.
TMS is considered a next-step treatment for depression sufferers. If a patient is unable to find relief through therapy or anti-depressant medication, they ought to consider TMS as a possible option. As with any other method of treatment, though, there is no guarantee of success.
TMS is different from Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT. Previously known as Electroshock therapy, ECT conjures up a lot of negative imagery due to its portrayal in the media. ECT is a safe, effective method of treating stubborn and severe cases of depression and bipolar disorder that also involves electrical stimulation of the brain. However, ECT is a far more intense treatment and requires that the patient is under anesthesia. During TMS, the patient remains awake and aware of what is going on. During TMS treatment, the patient sits upright in a comfortable chair, while small magnetic pulses are delivered to the brain near the region that doctors wish to stimulate. These produce short bursts of activity in the nerve cells beneath the coil. The only things the patient will experience are a clicking sound and a light tapping on the scalp.
It’s not yet known quite how TMS works, but what is known is it does. According to Harvard University research, between 50-60 percent of patients who saw no results from anti-depressants will experience significant benefits from TMS. Further, a full 33 percent of these patients will experience total remission.
Does My Loved One Need TMS Therapy?
You may ask yourself, “Does my loved one need TMS therapy?” How can you tell if it’s right for someone you care about? As with any treatment for almost any medical condition, it’s not foolproof. But here are some of the things to consider. TMS may be right for you if:
- A medical expert diagnosed you with Major Depressive Disorder
- Standard anti-depressant medications have failed
- You have trouble tolerating or otherwise can’t take anti-depressant medications
- You’re unsatisfied with the results you’ve received from other treatments
- Your depression is debilitating
Certain conditions may preclude individuals from TMS treatment. They include:
- The presence of implants or other metallic objects in the head or elsewhere in the body
- Internal devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, and vagus nerve stimulators
- Epilepsy, previous head injuries, or other severe neurological problems
About South Tampa Psychiatry
If you’re wondering, “Does my loved one need TMS therapy?”, we can help. Your mental well-being is our top priority. To learn more about TMS and other treatments for depression, call us at 866.273.5017.