how effective is TMS Therapy

Could TMS therapy provide medication-resistant depression patients new hope? Is this alternative therapy safe? How effective is TMS therapy for treating depression?

When a consumer is in the market for goods and services, due diligence is the name of the game. This means most of us give careful consideration to the quality, reliability, and effectiveness of the item or service before making the purchase. Reviews are read, claims are vetted, and research is conducted before pulling the trigger. Consumers today are savvy and have at their fingertips oodles of data to access before we take the plunge and spend our hard earned dollars.

When it comes to a physical or mental health service we might be considering, this vetting process takes on a much more serious tone. Buying an appliance or new skin care product is one thing, but when it comes to our health we are much more cautious when contemplating a procedure or service. For those who have tried in vain to find relief for stubborn depression, hearing about TMS is music to their ears. So…just how effective is TMS therapy anyway?

Depression and the Traditional Methods of Treating it

Depression is the second most prevalent mental health disorder experienced by American adults, with over 17 million affected by this serious condition. Although more anxiety disorders are diagnosed each year, depression is the leading cause of disability in the nation. The symptoms of depression may range from mild to severe, with some individuals becoming completely debilitated due to the symptoms that impair functioning. Depression can negatively impact all aspects of a person’s life, including career, family, relationships, and physical health.

For people who suffer from depression, finding treatments that are effective can be frustrating. The industry standard remains treating depression with a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy, however many do not experience the symptom relief they had hoped for.

In practice, while antidepressants where initially the much hailed solution for depression relief, only 30% of patients experience relief from symptoms during the first trial. After multiple trials of different drugs or changing of dosage, still only about 50% of patients are helped by antidepressants.

What is TMS therapy?

TMS therapy is in the category of treatments called brain stimulation, or neuromodulation, techniques. Of the brain stimulation techniques available, only TMS offers a non-surgical, drug-free solution that requires no down time. TMS has been in use for over a decade, helping tens of thousands overcome the depression that was not helped using antidepressants.

A TMS therapy session will take place in a clinical office setting while the patient is fully alert. Each session lasts approximately 40-minutes, during which the patient passes the time by reading or watching programming on TV or their device. They patient will experience a light tapping sensation on the scalp as the pulses are delivered through the coil.

TMS therapy uses magnetic fields to affect central nervous system activity, creating changes in the limbic system within the left prefrontal cortex. The repetitive magnetic pulses are delivered to the brain cells via a coil placed over the patient’s scalp. As the magnetic energy penetrates the scalp, electrical currents are induced that target the sluggish neural cells in this region of the brain.

How Does TMS Therapy Help Depression?

TMS therapy targets the left prefrontal cortex, the mood center of the brain that regulates emotions, decision-making, and other executive functions. Through brain imaging technologies it was discovered that underactive neural activity in this area of the brain was a common feature in depressed patients. TMS directs electrical energy into the brain tissue and jumpstarts these sluggish brain cells. Over a period of weeks, the consistent stimulation can help to reset the functioning of the brain cells. This leads to improvements in the patient’s mood, energy level, concentration ability, and sleep quality.

TMS therapy can also lead to an increase of dopamine level in the striatum. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. In addition, there is evidence that TMS can help modulate the GABA and glutamate systems, which can contribute to depression relief.

How Effective is TMS Therapy?

In studying how effective is TMS therapy, a multitude of clinical studies and trials have been conducted worldwide testing the safely and efficacy of TMS therapy. Many of these studies are sham-controlled, double-blind studies, and have demonstrated that TMS therapy provides statistically significant response and remission rates when compared to the results indicated by the sham control groups.

Some of these clinical studies include:

  • A 2010 multisite sham-controlled study of 199 patients with MDD showed patients had a 4.2 times chance of attaining remission from the MDD using TMS vs. sham.
  • A multi-site observational study involving 42 practice settings where 307 individuals with medication-resistant MDD received up to 6 weeks of TMS therapy.  Patient responses were recorded, from baseline to end of acute phase, on three assessment scales: the Clinician Global Impressions Severity of Illness scale; the Patient Health Questionnaire; and Inventory of Depressive Symptoms Self Report.  The outcomes indicated statistically significant improvement in response and remission rates after receiving TMS.
  • A meta-study analysis of more than 100 publically accessible published clinical trials of TMS for treatment of MDD produced a consensus that daily left prefrontal TMS treatments show substantial evidence of efficacy and safety for patients who are medication-resistant or intolerant.  
  • A 2010 multisite study out of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and authored by Philip G. Janicak, et al., studied 301 patients that demonstrated statistically significant treatment results and a low relapse rate after a six-month period.
  • A randomized sham-controlled study with 212 participants in which the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) was used to assess depression rates before and after a four week TMS treatment period and a following 12 week maintenance phase.  Based on the change in the HDRS results, findings showed that the patients who received TMS had clearly higher response and remission rates than the sham treatments.

TMS Therapy Near Me Provides Information and Guidance for TMS

TMS Therapy Near Me is an online resource that specializes in providing important information, provider resources, and research data about TMS therapy. TMS Therapy Near Me offers a wide array of helpful information about the benefits of TMS therapy for treating medication-resistant depression, and co-occurring anxiety disorders. For more information about TMS or for help finding a TMS provider, please request a referral.

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