Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, better known as TMS therapy, is a popular noninvasive treatment option for treating clinical depression. It is a process where the nerves of the brain are activated by sending magnetic impulses. The process of TMS is specifically designed to treat patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression.
The patient receives short, fast, and repeated bursts of magnetic impulses during the therapy. As the impulses are sent repeatedly, the process is called rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). The impulses are sent to regulate emotional disturbances in the brain.
If you want to know more about how tms works, consider reading this article till the end.
TMS – How does the therapy work?
The TMS therapy is carried on under the supervision of a doctor in a medical facility. At the initial appointment stage, doctors will determine what will be the ideal stimulation intensity for the particular patient. They will also figure out the best anatomical placement to place the magnetic coil.
Usually, the coil is placed on the forehead or the scalp. The electromagnetic coil creates a magnetic field. That magnetic field is targeted to send magnetic impulses to the left DLPFC (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). This area is responsible for the person’s mood regulation.
Through the magnetic coil, highly concentrated magnetic fields are created. These resemble those produced by an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine.
The interesting part about these magnetic fields is that they do not affect the entire brain. They just penetrate around 2-3 cm. beneath the magnetic coil. The small electric currents produced by the coil activate brain cells to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
Considering depression as an effect of an imbalance of the neurotransmitters, TMS therapy restores the balance. However, patients need to continue the therapy for multiple sessions because one session might decrease the brain’s excitability level but won’t cure it.
What to expect during a TMS session?
As already said before, TMS therapy is an outpatient procedure. It means it is conducted only under the guidance and supervision of a certified doctor. Before the treatment begins, the doctor will request the patient to remove any metal belongings. That might include your coins, jewelry, credit cards, smartphone, etc. Patients also need to keep earplugs in to avoid loud sounds.
At first, the doctor will measure the area to place the TMS coil. The motor threshold will also be measured, depending on what a patient needs. Generally, patients need around five daily sessions of TMS therapy for 3-6 weeks or as necessary. Therefore, the total number of sessions counts up to 20-30.
During the treatment, the machine administers high-frequency impulses around 10 Hz. The treatment is also called rTMS because, within a time span of 37 minutes, around 3,000 pulses are sent on average.
Who is a bad candidate for TMS Therapy?
Although TMS is a noninvasive and painless therapy, it is still not suitable if a patient has –
- Facial tattoos are done with magnetic ink
- Ear implants
- Metallic eyes
- Bullet or shrapnel fragments on the head
- Epileptic tendencies
- Brain tumors
- Alcohol addiction
One can better know how tms works if they connect with a medical facility offering the therapy. They will have medical professionals and doctors who will guide you clearly on how the process works.