Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – an Overview

TMS is a non-invasive method used to stimulate neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to elicit nervous activity. TMS is generally used to treat disorders like depression when other treatments are not successful in treating psychiatric disorders.

People suffering from various psychiatric disorders may opt for TMS in Phoenix by their psychologist.

The procedure of TMS. 

Before starting the procedure, the doctor makes sure that any kind of substance sensitive to the magnet is removed. 

A circular coil is positioned at the target areas of the brain, and when current passes through the coil, a magnetic field is created. This magnetic field emits pulses. These pulses penetrate the skull; and pulses reaching the brain are responsible for the nervous activity. 

Depending upon the location of the brain, the intensity of the pulse, and its frequency, the effect is determined. For example, slow pulses (low frequency) can suppress nervous activity, and rapid pulses (high frequency) can excite the neurons. 

High-frequency pulses are used to treat medical conditions like depression. These pulses stimulate neurons to release neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters reduce the symptoms caused by depression. 

The procedure is repeated five times a week for 5-6 weeks depending upon the patient’s response. 

How does TMS help?

TMS is used for several psychiatric conditions. It helps to treat the following conditions: 

  1. Depression: primarily, TMS treats MDD (major depressive disorder). 30% of people with this condition respond to TMS. The brain’s prefrontal cortex is responsible for depression and stimulating the nerve cells in this area. TMS can reduce the symptoms.
  1. OCD: people with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) have increased activity of the prefrontal cortex and striatum of the brain. TMS can reduce activity in this part of the brain. 
  1. Anxiety: TMS treats general anxiety disorder (GAD). TMS helps reduce the overactivity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex. 
  1. PTSD: TMS regulates the prefrontal cortex in managing fear and worry. 
  1. Schizophrenia: TMS targets the temporoparietal area of the cortex and reduces auditory hallucinations. 
  1. Alzheimer’s disease: TMS can alter neuronal connections involving learning and memory. 
  1. Nicotine addiction: TMS targets the prefrontal cortex to reduce nicotine cravings. 
  1. Chronic pain: TMS stimulates the motor cortex of the brain, reducing pain. 

The success rate of TMS:

TMS is mainly used to treat major depression disorders, and the success rate falls between 30-64%.

Side effects:

Side effects of TMS are rare; they include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Scalp or neck pain
  3. Facial twitching
  4. Sleepiness
  5. Tingling
  6. Seizures: This is very rare (0.1%). 

If you have depression and no medication or form of therapy is helpful, this is the proper treatment. Although a TMS can be pretty expensive, the cost ranges from approximately $6,000-$12,000.