Depression treatment with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Depression is the leading cause of health issues with the age group of 15 to 44. More than half of this population suffers from severe depression which causes unavoidable mental and physical health problems. The suicide rate has also been in increased, of which depression is the major cause. South Korea recorded a maximum number of suicides out of depression. A person could suffer from depression due to many reasons like work pressure, relationship problems, family problems, studies, financial health, etc. It is not restricted to any specific age group and could happen to anyone. The first approach to heal this is antidepressant but more than 66% of the patients do not get relief from the antidepressants. The secondary way is to use electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) also known as shock therapy which is considered the most potent therapy but it is hard to perform because of the adverse side effects of it on the patient’s memory and cognition.

For those who don’t give adequate response using medication and ECT, there is the latest therapy called Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

What is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an aseptic form for the stimulation of the brain. TMS targets those parts of the brain which are involved in causing depression and it is performed outside the body and does not involve any internal body treatment. The patient could tolerate the TMS therapy well without any anesthesia unlike the side effects of the ECT. 

How does it work?

TMS is a rigorous process that requires sessions as prescribed by experts. It may be four or five days a week. It depends on the doctor. The session may last up to 20 minutes to one hour depending on the methods used. The motor cortex is used and needed stimulation intensity and the anatomical target is determined. By locating the correct area of the brain and determining the fire speed, the specialist targets the brain for adequate stimulation. After this, the prefrontal cortex is targeted to treat the cells involved in the depression treatment. The results of the therapy could be seen after the fourth or fifth session, in starting days it won’t be visible much. 

How to prepare a patient for TMS?

The patient needs to be well prepared for the TMS therapy with-

  • Lab and other tests for physical verification
  • Psychiatric evaluation

It ensures the safety and goodness of the therapy for the patient. The patient shall clear the doctor about any kind of situation on which this therapy may have an adverse effect like-

  • The patient is pregnant or thinking of it
  • Any medical device is implanted in the body. The therapy involves heavy magnetic field production which may cause harm to the body in the presence of such devices. So, the patient should tell the doctor if he has medical devices implanted like stents, electrodes, cochlear for hearing, bullet fragments, coils or implanted stimulators, etc.
  • History of epilepsy
  • Stroke, tumor or any brain injury
  • Severe or frequent headaches
  • Prior TMS treatment
  • Any prescriptions or medication going on

These precautions should be taken to avoid the adverse effects of the therapy on the patient.

Effectiveness of TMS

The patients who do not get any relief from medication or ECT would get a better result in the TMS. More than 30% of the patients get relieved from the symptoms not treated by the other methods. As it is a non-invasive form of treatment, it does not show much of the side effects and not painful as well.

Other treatments with TMS

For neurological disorders, researches have been made to use TMS as a good fit. Though there is no approval for using TMS as a process to treat these disorders it has shown good results in treating pediatric depression, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), smoking cessation, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. So, TMS is effective in such a situation but is not approved yet.

After completion of the TMS therapy medication and psychotherapy is recommended to maintain the state of mind. You should take the sessions unless there are no symptoms of depression left, the incomplete process won’t get you any results. Hence, you can go for TMS therapy after considering the above-mentioned precautions and you will find this therapy as very effective and fruitful.