Depression is one of the leading causes of morbidity worldwide, with nearly 300 million people affected globally. While antidepressant medication and psychotherapy remain the go-to treatments for depression, they are not always effective for everyone. However, there exists an alternative for individuals with treatment-resistant depression: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy. This post aims to provide patients suffering from depression with a glimpse into patient experiences and outcomes.
TMS therapy is a non-invasive, non-systemic treatment
TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain that are involved in mood regulation. The therapy is carried out over several weeks, during which patients attend a series of daily or near-daily sessions. Many patients report that TMS therapy is painless and that they often feel relaxed during treatment. Furthermore, unlike medication treatments, TMS therapy is not associated with side effects, and there is no need to taper off the treatment after completing a course of therapy.
Several research studies have shown the effectiveness of TMS Therapy in treating depression. One notable study that was carried out in Canada showed that TMS Therapy was effective in treating depression in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who had not responded to 1 to 4 antidepressant treatments. The study found that after 4 to 6 weeks of TMS therapy, 58% of patients had a satisfactory response, and 37% of patients had a remission of symptoms. Additionally, notable clinical improvement was observed in depressive and anxiety symptoms during the TMS treatment course.
A prominent advantage of TMS therapy is its ability to target specific regions of the brain. For instance, TMS therapy can target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a region associated with depression. By stimulating the DLPFC, TMS therapy appears to activate areas of the brain that are underactive in individuals with depression. Consequently, this leads to an improvement in depressive symptoms.
Factors that Impact Treatment Outcomes
One factor that may impact TMS therapy outcomes is the number of treatment sessions received. The FDA has approved TMS therapy as a treatment option for depression based on treatment protocols that typically involve 20 to 30 daily treatments lasting 20 to 40 minutes each. Interestingly, some patients report that they start seeing improvements in their mood after just a few sessions, while others require the full treatment course. Regardless, TMS therapy is generally well-tolerated by patients and requires no recovery time after each session.
In conclusion, TMS therapy is a viable treatment option for individuals with treatment-resistant depression. It offers a safe and effective alternative for those who have not responded to other treatments such as medication or psychotherapy. Through the use of magnetic fields that directly target mood-regulating regions of the brain, TMS therapy can produce positive outcomes after several weeks of daily treatments. Speak to your physician to discuss your options.