Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS Therapy, is the state-of-the-art treatment for depression.
TMS Therapy is widely reimbursed by both private and public health insurance companies. It is also recommended by the American Psychiatric Association if an individual has not received the needed benefits from one antidepressant, TMS Therapy should be considered as a next treatment option instead of changing to a different antidepressant.
TMS Therapy is focused on the areas of the brain that control mood so it does not negatively affect thinking and memory functions, or any other normal brain functions.1
During TMS Therapy, there is no need for sedation or anesthesia; patients are awake, alert and are able to resume normal activities after a treatment session.
NO SIDE EFFECTS
TMS is 100% free of medication side effects. Unlike traditional antidepressant medications, TMS Therapy does not cause weight gain, sexual dysfunction, nausea, fatigue or negative cognitive effects.
Typically, only a 6-week course of 45 minutes per day treatments are needed, unlike medications that can take months to stabilize mood. After a course of TMS Therapy, most patients enjoy long-lasting benefits.
TMS Therapy uses magnetic energy to stimulate brain cells which helps them to naturally release needed chemicals necessary for proper mood regulation.
How Does TMS Therapy Work?
TMS Therapy generates a highly concentrated, magnetic field, which turns on and off very rapidly. This magnetic field is the same type and strength as that produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.
Typically, the treatment coil is gently applied to the left front portion of the head. The magnetic field is focused on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is involved in mood regulation and is less active due to depression. This magnetic field does not directly affect the whole brain, only reaching about 2-3 centimeters into the brain directly beneath the treatment coil.
As this magnetic field moves into the brain, it produces very small electrical currents. These electrical currents activate neurons within the brain which are thought to release neurotransmitters, like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine to treat depression. These are the same neurotransmitters that are provided artificially through antidepressant medications. With TMS Therapy, your brain is able to provide these neurotransmitters naturally.
These are images from a SPECT Scan2 (single photon emission computed tomography) scan of the cumulative results from 12 men receiving TMS.
The red-orange in these images show increases in blood flow in the brain as a result of TMS treatment. The bottom left image shows increased blood flow below the TMS coil. Other images also reveal increased blood flow in deeper brain regions involved in mood regulation and correlate with how TMS treats depression.
This scan is an example of how TMS only directly effects the brain circuits involved in mood regulation and not other circuits as medications do, resulting in unwanted side effects.
1A Nashville NeuroCare Therapy staff member will discuss the risks of TMS Therapy during a consultation session prior to starting treatment.
2Kito, S, et al. “Changes in Regional Blood Flow After Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of the Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex in Treatment-Resistant Depression.” Journal of Neurosciences. 2008, 20: 74-80.