TMS is an FDA-approved treatment for depression that can step in to do the job when medications fail to work. If you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, and medications and therapy just aren’t working the way they should, TMS may be able to provide relief or even remission from your symptoms.
TMS vs. Antidepressants
There’s no doubt that antidepressants can be a lifesaving treatment. When the right one is found to work, the patient can experience a relief or remission of the symptoms of depression but for many, the road to a life free of depression is a long and difficult one with many turns along the way. What works miracles for one person may do nothing but cause painful side effects for another. Fortunately, there may be another way. TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is an alternative to a life on medication which uses magnetic fields to stimulate the area of the brain associated with depression.
Benefits of TMS Therapy
There are many reasons why TMS is growing in popularity
It’s Drug Free
When you take antidepressants, you have to take them every day and often, as time goes on, they lose their effectiveness and the dosage has to be adjusted or a new one will need to be found. Antidepressants are systemic, which means they go into the bloodstream and affect the cells. TMS, on the other hand, is a directed treatment that only affects the area of the brain where it is directed.
With a treatment like ECT or Electroconvulsive therapy, the patient must be sedated and often a helmet or mouthguard is used. An electric current is administered which will hopefully “jump start” the neurotransmitters by inducing mini-seizures. Because there is a risk of memory loss, this treatment is reserved for people who get no relief from the symptoms any other way. TMS effects a small area and the procedure requires no sedation. When the session is done, the patient can drive home or go on about his or her day.
It has few side effects
Unlike antidepressants which can cause side effects with various systems of the body, TMS has few side effects. The most common side effect is discomfort around the treatment area and sometimes headaches and neck aches occur. There is an increased risk of seizures during the treatment so it is not for people who have epilepsy or a history of seizures.
A 2014 study of 257 patients found that after a full year, 67.7% had a response to the treatment and 45.1% had reached remission. With such a high success rate, it’s no surprise that TMS is growing in popularity and is covered by most insurance companies. With the increasing availability, more and more people with MDD are finding their way back to a life free from the symptoms of depression.