TMS AND RTMS THERAPIES
If you have been battling with depression for some time and the various options for treatment have been duly explained to you, no doubt the term ‘’TMS’’ would not be new to you.
TMS that is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a FDA approved procedure that uses a powerful magnet to deliver an electric jolt to the brain. Scientists believe that the technique works like a heart defibrillator. The electric voltage that passes through the brain causes its neurons to fire at once. Just like a spark is used to start a vehicle, somehow this action seems to reset the rate at which the brain releases its various neurotransmitters.
The TMS Procedure
This is how TMS is delivered. The TMS device delivers a rapid electrical pulse to the brain for 4 seconds followed by a 26 second break. The pulse is directed to the pre-frontal cortex, which is thought to be an area of mood regulation. When the pulse hits, it feels like a light tapping on the head. Although there is pressure, there is no pain. Unlike ECT, there is no need to use anesthesia or other form of sedation.
The treatment is done in the doctor’s office on an outpatient basis. It lasts about 40 minutes and is given every day for five days a week and continues from four to a six weeks until an improvement or remission is achieved.
Any Side Effects of TMS?
Because TMS is not as invasive as ECT and does not produce a seizure in the brain, it has milder side effects. The most important thing is that unlike ECT, there is no memory loss. The most common side effect are unpleasant scalp sensations at or near the treatment site, or headaches. These events are passing; they gradually diminish over the course of the treatment.
What Have Been the Results of TMS?
In clinical trials, a number of people who have failed to improve by using medication and other therapies have responded to RTMS treatments. In one randomized control study, twice as many people improved who had the treatment compared to the control group.
How Available is TMS?
Because it has been approved by the FDA, TMS is no longer and experimental therapy and is slowly gaining in popularity. It is offered at highly regarded organizations such as Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Mayo Clinic.
If you are considering this procedure for yourself or a loved one, consult your family physician or check with the mental health agencies in your area.
Let us end with a summary.
TMS is simply a fairly recent, no-invasive treatment that uses magnetism to heal the brain. Like ECT, TMS will most likely be used to “jump start” the brain so that other forms of medical care can then be used to maintain the patient’s well-being over the long haul.
Similar to TMS and ECT is RTMS
Rapid Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation:
While ECT can be an effective measure for treatment resistant depression,its invasive nature will always cause a divide. If TMS proved to be more accepted, there is another promising alternative that works on the same principle as ECT, but may be less traumatic.
An experimental procedure known as Rapid Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (RTMS) uses a powerful magnet to deliver an electric jolt to the brain in the same manner as ECT, but without electrical stimulation to unnecessary parts of the brain. Scientists believe that the technique works like a heart defibrillator. The electric voltage that passes through the brain causes its neurons to fire at once and somehow this action seems to reset the rate at which the brain releases its various neurotransmitters.
In clinical trials, some people who have failed to improve by using medication and other therapies have responded to RTMS treatments within six days, while the majority are significantly better after two weeks of twenty-minute treatments. Because of its newness, no one knows if these benefits will last longer than six months, but preliminary indications are promising. Like ECT, RTMS will most likely be used to “jump start” the brain so that other forms of medical care can then be used to maintain the patient’s well-being over the long haul. Magnetic therapy has been a viable medical therapy for thousands of years.
Having a “gentler” form of ECT available is exciting news for people who suffer from long-term treatment-resistant depression.