In the world of depression treatment, medications tend to be considered as the “go-to” or first line treatment. Outside of medication, however, there are lots of other options to be considered. One of these options is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy (TMS), an effective treatment alternative that has proven to be successful among many patients with depression.
What is TMS Therapy?
TMS therapy is a non-invasive, outpatient based, brain stimulation therapy that places magnetic coils on the forehead. These coils send targeted magnetic impulses that stimulate nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, specifically the left prefrontal cortex, as this area is often responsible for controlling mood. Research and clinical trials show that these impulses have a positive impact on neurotransmitters in the brain that ultimately decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety caused by depression for an extended period of time.
Effectiveness of TMS
There are numerous clinical studies that show that TMS therapy is a legitimate and effective treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. When compared to antidepressant medications, many people do not find relief or any symptom reduction from medications, or the side effects are simply too much to handle. Therefore, there is a large and immediate need for effective alternative therapies. The term efficacy in efficacy research refers to the ability to produce the intended result, and TMS has proven efficacy and success.
In 2005, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted widespread use of TMS for Major Depressive Disorder. It also permitted the marketing of TMS for treating pain from certain migraines in 2013. Even more recently, as recently as August of 2018, a specific device known as the Brainsway Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation System has been approved for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. While there are exciting treatment options available that have minimal to no side effects, people may wonder about benefits and TMS therapy success rates.
Between 60% and 75% of people who have participated in TMS treatment have shown some signs of improvement in their depression symptoms. Some individuals experience at least a 50% drop in their symptoms. Close to half of all people who have participated in TMS treatment experienced full remission of symptoms. It may be important to note that while results like these are exciting, it does not necessarily indicate permanent remission of symptoms. Harvard Medical School notes that recurrence of symptoms is typical and consistent with other treatments, such as medication and psychotherapy, for mood disorders. However, most patients who have undergone TMS treatment note reduction or elimination of symptoms for many months after treatment ends, with the average length being a little more than a year symptom free.
Multiple studies show that in clinical trials with participants receiving repetitive TMS (rTMS) in comparison to those receiving a sham treatment (sham treatment is a term that has a similar variable in place as a placebo, but referencing a procedure rather than an oral medication) reported significantly greater improvement in their depression symptoms based on a depression index scale.
Overall, it is clear that TMS therapy is an effective treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and has the potential to be a more common, highly useful treatment option for other psychiatric disorders in the future. While there is always room for more studies to improve and refine the use of TMS therapy for Major Depression and other disorders, there doesn’t need to be any hesitation about TMS effectiveness and considering it as a valid treatment today.
If you want to beat anxiety or depression, and you’re concerned about the many side effects of antidepressants, consider TMS therapy. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA cleared non-invasive option to treat depression, where targeted magnetic pulses stimulate areas of the brain that affect mood. TMS helps you get back to your best life quickly and with no side effects. Among the many depression treatment options out there, TMS therapy is an excellent, pain-free solution that is covered by most insurance.
This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.
Basil, B., Mahmud, J., Mathews, M., Rodriguez, C., & Adetunji, B. (2005). Is there evidence for effectiveness of transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of psychiatric disorders?. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 2(11), 64–69.
Stern, A. P., MD. (2018, February 23). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Hope for stubborn depression. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-for-depression-2018022313335
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018, August 17). FDA permits marketing of transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Retrieved January 26, 2020, from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-permits-marketing-transcranial-magnetic-stimulation-treatment-obsessive-compulsive-disorder