How TMS Therapy Works to Treat Depression

How TMS Therapy Works to Treat Depression from Hope TMS and Neuropsychiatric Center in New York, NYTranscranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a useful therapy for treatment-resistant depression. It often achieves results when traditional treatment options fail. TMS can be a standalone treatment, or it can serve to increase the efficacy of ongoing therapies. Here is how transcranial magnetic brain stimulation can improve the symptoms of depression.

TMS therapy and how it works

A magnetic field can induce electrical activity in the nerves, which is the principle behind TMS therapy. The resulting uptick in neural activity will often reduce symptoms of depression. Patients who benefit from TMS experience an improvement in mood and their ability to function.

TMS therapy for depression targets the part of the brain responsible for mood regulation, emotional response, and decision-making. This is also the part of the brain that prepares a person right before they make a voluntary movement. It prompts the person to move in reaction to their environment. This section of the brain sits at the top of the head and is called the prefrontal cortex.

Neural activity in the prefrontal cortex decreases when depression sets in. The more severe the depression, the less activity there is in certain sections of the prefrontal cortex. Applying a magnetic field over specific sections of the brain reverses this physiological manifestation of depression. This has the knock-on effect of minimizing the other symptoms of depression.

The ideal candidate for TMS therapy

The first step in a TMS treatment plan is patient evaluation and screening. At this stage, a doctor or mental health practitioner determines if their patient is likely to benefit from brain stimulation. They will recommend the treatment for patients who:

  • Are suffering from moderate to severe forms of depression
  • Show little improvement after exhausting more conservative treatment options
  • Are willing to give TMS therapy a try
  • Are not at risk for seizures
  • Lack medical implants that could fail if exposed to a magnetic field

A person who is a good candidate for TMS can then schedule a series of outpatient procedures. These procedures are brief, non-invasive, and easy to work into the average daily routine.

What a patient should expect from TMS treatment

Patients will receive TMS treatments from medical or mental health professionals with the requisite certification. This means that a qualified doctor, TMS technician, or psychiatrist can safely administer TMS treatments. Here is what a first-time patient should expect from a session:

  • The doctor or technician measures the person’s head to work out the ideal location to apply a magnetic field
  • They set the frequency and intensity of the TMS equipment that generates the magnetic field
  • The doctor will ask the patient to wear a pair of earplugs to shut out the noise from the TMS equipment
  • Next, they place a magnetic coil on the patient’s scalp, right on top of a specific section of the brain
  • They will start the TMS machine, which will create a magnetic pulse in the coil that sits on the patient’s head

The entire procedure takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and the patient can resume their daily routine. TMS sessions are painless and have minimal side effects, so patients can typically drive themselves home.

Check out what others are saying about our TMS services on Yelp: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in New York, NY

Get in touch to find out what TMS therapy can do for you

Our team offers personalized mental health care for each of our patients. Reach out to our offices to find out how therapies like TMS help treat and manage depression.

Request an appointment or call Hope TMS and Neuropsychiatric Center at 646-578-8152 for an appointment in our New York office.

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