tms rewire brain

April 2, 2019

How TMS Works

More than 15 million American adults suffer from depression. That’s 6.7 percent of the entire United States population above the age of 18. Not everyone suffers from the same type of depression or in the same ways, but so many are suffering and in need of help. Support, patience, and understanding from family, friends and colleagues are some of the most important types of help anyone who’s depressed can get. For those without the disease, even if you can’t fully comprehend what it’s like to live with depression, just making an effort to recognize the difficulty anyone who’s close to you and suffering from depression faces every day can go a long way.

For many sufferers, however, that alone isn’t enough. There are many types of depression treatments, but one that received FDA approval in the last decade is getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason. Eight years ago, the FDA approved the use of magnetic stimulants on the brain to help those whose depression has not improved as a result of taking antidepressants. Today, the treatment is available throughout the country.

As mentioned, it’s difficult to know for certain when a particular person will respond positively to any specific type of treatment. That means it’s important to note that what’s known as transcranial magnetic stimulation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. But for many who have long suffered and not responded well to antidepressants, counseling or other conventional treatments, this exciting method could be just what they need to overcome some of the challenges of living with depression.

Doctors frequently prescribe antidepressants to those people suffering from depression, and they are effective for most who take them. Unfortunately, somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of people do not respond positively to antidepressants, failing to show improvement after taking the medication. That means that up to 4.5 million Americans don’t see their conditions improve just by taking medication. Clearly, that is far, far too large a number for anyone to ignore. Those Americans can’t be left alone in their suffering.

Enter transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This treatment relies on magnetic stimulation to “rewire” portions of the brain. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s actually real, proven medical science. The treatment targets very specific parts of the brain and does so in a noninvasive manner. Basically, it is a treatment for your brain’s “network.”

This is essentially the opposite of the way in which medications, which take a bottom-up approach, are meant to attack depression. Specific parts of the brain are identified for transcranial magnetic stimulation, and then the treatment energizes those parts.

One of the best things about the treatment is that it has virtually no side effects. For anyone who has ever had to deal with the unfortunate side effects that antidepressants can cause, this is nothing short of revelatory. Medications are distributed throughout the entire bloodstream, taking a blanket approach as opposed to transcranial magnetic stimulation’s targeted approach to treatment. This means medication takes a toll on almost every organ system in the body. The results can be headaches, dizziness, weight gain, nausea and more.

Whether you have depression or not, you can surely relate to how unpleasant each of those things can be. Now imagine having little choice but to suffer through them in hopes that you’re in the 70 percent for which the medication works and also hopes it works well enough and the side effects are mild enough for you to be able to justify continue taking the medication to treat this horrible disease.

Well, because transcranial magnetic stimulation is laser-focused on the areas of the brain in need of treatment, the unwanted side effects are almost completely eliminated. The result is often – but again, not always, as no one treatment is perfect for all sufferers – a therapeutic effect accompanied by far more tolerable side effects.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is unfortunately still not as widespread in usage as it could be, but it continues to grow and most insurance companies now even cover the treatment for patients suffering from depression. It’s even covered by those with Medicare.

Excitingly, the possibilities for the treatment don’t end with depression either. It can be very effective for anyone who’s suffering from any condition where focused brain stimulation may be helpful in improving the patient’s quality of life. That includes depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s, dystonia, strokes, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In some cases, it can even be successful in treating tinnitus and chronic pain conditions.

Advanced Psychiatry Associates administers TMS to patients for whom medications and other treatments have been unsuccessful. Is TMS right for you? Request an appointment with us today to find out if you’re a candidate for the treatment.