The Safety and Efficacy of TMS: What Does the Research Say?

The Safety and Efficacy of TMS: What Does the Research Say?

How Accurate is TMS?

Navigating through the complexity of depression can often feel overwhelming, particularly if you’ve tried treatments such as antidepressants or psychotherapy without any success. Fortunately, there are other treatment options available, one of which is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, also known as TMS therapy for depression. You may ask yourself, “How accurate is TMS?” especially if you’ve encountered this therapy in your search for effective treatments.

This blog post by Integrative Healthcare will delve into significant research findings regarding the safety and efficacy of TMS. We aim to equip you with accurate scientific information so that you can make an informed decision about your depression treatment.

If you’re based in New Hampshire and are seeking an effective treatment option with minimal side effects for depression, TMS therapy at Integrative Healthcare might be the solution you’re looking for. We’ll explore the safety and efficacy of TMS therapy for depression and how it works.

What is Depression, and How Can TMS Therapy Help?

Depression, or depressive disorder, is a mental health condition that profoundly impacts a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It encompasses deep sadness and a disinterest in activities individuals previously enjoyed. This disorder can result in many emotional and physical problems, hindering everyday tasks such as work, study, caregiving, and self-care.

Despite the sense of isolation that often comes with mental health disorders, major depression is far from uncommon. It’s the most prevalent mental disorder in the United States, affecting approximately 21 million adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Sadly, around 40% of these individuals do not receive any treatment. And while there’s an increasing need for greater mental health awareness, various therapies are available for treating depression. The most common among these are medication and psychotherapy, though they often come with adverse side effects or fail to deliver results for some individuals.

Here is where Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy comes into play. TMS therapy is a modern, alternative approach that uses magnetic fields to activate specific areas of the brain that control mood and are associated with severe depression. Since its introduction in 1985, TMS therapy has evolved and demonstrated its efficacy in treating severe depression as a non-invasive treatment.

TMS therapy, approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depressive disorder, is an intensive treatment plan typically requiring 20-to-50-minute sessions spread over weeks. The exact duration and frequency depend on factors such as the discretion of the physician, the TMS provider, the specific device used, and the clinic’s protocols.

Upon arrival at the treatment center, the stimulation process commences with the physician, determining the optimal stimulation intensity and target area within the brain’s motor cortex. The clinical team then identifies the best placement and power for the stimulation coil to ensure adequate stimulation. They focus on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain area involved in depression, and calculate its position to maximize the efficacy of TMS therapy.

This information underscores the efficacy of TMS as a treatment option, offering hope to those for whom traditional treatments have been insufficient. In the landscape of depression treatments, TMS stands out with its unique approach and proven results.

How Does TMS Work?

The TMS system generates magnetic fields via a treatment coil. This process, which involves rapidly switching these fields on and off, is akin to operating a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. Interestingly, these magnetic fields do not influence the entire brain; they only penetrate approximately 2-3 centimeters into the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Upon reaching the brain, these fields generate minuscule electrical currents that stimulate brain cells to release neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. TMS can effectively recalibrate the imbalance of these brain chemicals that are often linked with depression, making it a safe and effective treatment for alleviating depression.

Unraveling the Efficacy of TMS

Dr. Adam P. Stern’s article for Harvard Health Publishing reveals that TMS therapy for depression has achieved substantial success. Remarkably, TMS therapy has shown a clinically significant response in around 50% to 60% of individuals who did not experience beneficial results from medication therapy. TMS treatment eradicated depressive symptoms in approximately one-third of individuals. These outcomes highlight TMS’s efficacy, which typically persists for an average of one year post-treatment.

Given its relative novelty as a treatment method, the efficacy of TMS has been the subject of extensive research. A study shared by the National Library of Medicine from the General Psychiatry Journal demonstrates the effectiveness of TMS, especially in instances where depression has proven resistant to other treatments. The study found high-frequency TMS to have a response rate of 29.3% and a remission rate of 19% in cases of treatment-resistant depression.

These findings suggest TMS’s potential as a therapeutic alternative. Research has shown that TMS significantly reduces depressive symptoms and increases the likelihood of response and remission for individuals who have not responded to multiple antidepressants. The study further suggests that TMS can enhance psychotherapy outcomes in patients with drug-resistant depression, offering a high probability of remission when used in combination.

Further reinforcing the efficacy of TMS, a recent study by Frontiers in Psychiatry systematically reviewed its impact on reducing suicidal ideation in depression. The results revealed statistically significant lower suicidal ideation scores in the group that received TMS treatment, with TMS proving notably effective in alleviating depression. This research confirms the potential of TMS in treating depression, reducing its symptoms, and lowering suicide risk, providing fresh evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of TMS.

TMS Safety and Potential Side Effects

TMS is a treatment with minimal intervention for brain stimulation that stands out from other methods, like deep brain and vagus nerve stimulation, due to its lack of requirement for surgery or electrode implantation. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), TMS does not induce seizures or memory loss. As it’s non-invasive, there’s also no need for anesthesia.

Having been approved by the FDA more than a decade ago, specialists regard TMS as a safe and generally well-tolerated therapy. Compared to other treatments, its side effects are typically mild.

Potential Side Effects:

While not everyone experiences side effects with TMS, they are usually mild to moderate when they do occur. These effects often improve shortly after each session and diminish throughout subsequent sessions. The most commonly reported effects include:

  • Headaches and scalp discomfort
  • Tingling or spasms in facial muscles
  • Dizziness

The administering physician might adjust the stimulation level or suggest taking a pain reliever before the procedure to alleviate these symptoms. However, in cases where an individual with a history of frequent migraines or headaches experiences an increase in headache frequency, physicians recommend discontinuing TMS therapy for depression.

Exploring the Efficacy of TMS at the Integrative Healthcare

If you’ve tried various treatments for depression without success, don’t lose heart. Another option awaits your consideration – TMS therapy for depression. Both patient outcomes and scientific research have underscored the safety and efficacy of TMS. This treatment method is fast, non-invasive, and painless, with fewer side effects compared to other approaches.

At Integrative Healthcare, we specialize in treating depressive disorders using TMS therapy. We have demonstrated that our application of TMS therapy rapidly improves symptoms of depression. Moreover, individuals who have supplemented their existing therapies or medication treatments with TMS have reported more pronounced improvements. We understand the concerns you may be grappling with and are here to provide support.

Visit our Nashua, New Hampshire center, call us at (855) 599-9987, or contact us online for a complimentary consultation. We’re ready to help answer your question: “How effective is TMS therapy?” and guide you toward better mental health.

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