Living with depression is hard, but can be especially difficult when one treatment after another doesn’t help. You lose hope. Will you ever feel better?
Finding the right treatment can take time but TMS may be the treatment that will make you feel like you again.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a series of repetitive, brief and highly focused magnetic pulses, used to stimulate brain cells. TMS is an effective, non-invasive, outpatient treatment with few known adverse effects.
TMS is currently used in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder and is usually prescribed when anti-depressants have failed.
When a nerve cell ‘fires’, an electrical impulse travels along its length. It communicates with other nerve cells by releasing neuro-transmitters, which create an electrical impulse in other cells. In depressed patients, the electrical activity in certain areas of the brain have been shown to be reduced. TMS uses a focused electromagnetic coil, to rapidly pulse a magnetic field to the targeted area of the brain.
The magnetic pulses induce an electrical current in the brain, stimulating the nerve cells, increasing the brain activity to normal levels.
Medication like anti-depressants are systemic, which means that the medication is absorbed into the blood stream which can cause numerous side effects. TMS is typically prescribed when anti-depressants have failed or the side effects are intolerable; this may be called treatment resistant depression, or TRD.¹
Other treatments for TRD include Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), which works by applying a brief electrical pulse to the brain that medically induces a seizure. ECT is performed in a hospital and you will be anaesthetised and restrained during the procedure. ECT can be associated with numerous side effects. TMS is a gentle, non-systemic, outpatient procedure with has few known associated side effects. Patients can return to their daily activities after treatment.
TMS is a safe and well-tolerated treatment with few known adverse effects. Clinical trials show that the most common side effects are mild to moderate scalp discomfort and mild headaches, both of which are short-term.²
TMS therapy is appropriate for adults with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication in the current episode.
This means that if you have been diagnosed with MDD and medication is not working, or the side effects are intolerable, you should ask your doctor about TMS.
Magstim Academy Lecture Series – Rhythm and Acceleration – recent advances in TMS treatment for mood disorders. Mark George, MD, Nolan Williams, MD and Martijn Arns, PhD will present on their recently published and on-going TMS studies.