Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has gained recognition in recent years as an effective treatment option for patients with depression that does not respond to medication. TMS was certified by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008, and it is now widely accessible across the United States.According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 17…
TMS Treatment From a Psychiatrist
Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy, or TMS therapy, stimulates the brain to manage symptoms of depression and other mental health issues. Psychiatrists recommend the treatment to patients who fail to respond to more conventional therapies. Read on to learn how TMS works and whether the treatment is a good fit.
Screening and evaluation for TMS therapy
Psychiatry involves crafting personalized treatment plans that account for individual patients' needs. Treating a mental health problem like depression is a process that evolves with a patient’s progress. A psychiatrist will modify their approach depending on how well or how poorly a patient responds to treatment. In many cases, the doctor will craft a treatment plan that manages the patient’s symptoms.
Sometimes, conventional approaches like medication and psychotherapy fail to improve a person’s mental health. They will need a more aggressive treatment plan, which is where brain stimulation comes in. A psychiatrist will advise TMS therapy for:
- An adult patient
- Patients without a history of epilepsy or other conditions that can result in seizures
- People who do not have medical implants could malfunction if exposed to a magnetic field
The screening process often requires a psychiatrist to consult with the patient’s primary care physician. Once they get the go-ahead to pursue TMS therapy, they will go through the following steps.
Measurement and mapping
TMS treats mental health issues like depression by targeting specific sections of the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, mood regulation, and emotional response.
A psychiatrist will identify a specific location on the prefrontal cortex and map the spot on their patient’s scalp. This is the precise location where the doctor will apply a magnetic field during the TMS procedure.
The TMS procedure
TMS is a painless, non-invasive procedure that takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The treatment takes place on an outpatient basis, enabling patients to schedule appointments in the middle of their daily routine. Here is what to expect from a typical TMS session:
- The psychiatrist sets the frequency and intensity of the magnetic pulses that the TMS system will generate
- They ask the patient to wear a set of earplugs to mute the sound of the TMS machine
- The doctor positions a magnetic coil on the patient’s scalp, right over the target area
- They start the TMS machine
- Focused magnetic pulses from the TMS system travel two or three centimeters into the target section of the patient’s brain
- These bursts of magnetic energy induce small electric currents that activate the nerves
This increase in brain activity serves to improve or manage the symptoms of depression. After a few weeks, patients should start to experience positive changes to their mental health.
Frequency and duration of treatment
TMS therapy requires around five sessions a week over a few weeks. Patients who get good results can take a long break from treatment. During the break, the psychiatrist will monitor the patient while administering treatments like psychotherapy. They will only recommend another course of TMS if their patient needs it.
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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been proven to be an effective therapy for depression. Read on to learn more about this type of treatment. However, even if an introductory course of TMS therapy is effective, therapeutic care of a patient with depression usually does not end after the first acute treatment. Depression is a chronic…
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