Modern Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) was first introduced in 1985 following Michael Faraday’s discovery of generating magnetic fields through metal coil conductors. The theory behind TMS is to use the magnetic field to influence the neurons in certain parts of the brain and depolarize the neurons to make them release neurotransmitters.
Since 1985, TMS has been tried, evaluated, and studied in psychiatry. Newer methods of TMS were developed, like rTMS (where r stands for “repetitive”) and dTMS (where d stands for “deep”).
In this article, you’ll learn more about TMS psychological procedures and why they can be a good treatment program for mental health problems.
What Is TMS in Psychology And Its Role in Treatments?
TMS is a type of brain stimulation therapy. It is a non-invasive treatment that doesn’t require inpatient hospitalization during scheduled procedures. As an outpatient procedure, TMS only takes a few minutes, with rests between sessions. Overall, the treatment can last from 30 minutes to one hour.
TMS therapy requires a prescription from your doctor. You can’t just go to a clinic and get TMS. Since TMS will be part of your mental health treatment, your primary mental health physician will set the frequency of TMS procedures. Most of the time, patients who undergo TMS treatments repeat the procedure five days a week. The treatment duration can last about four to six weeks as your physician prescribes.
The role of TMS in mental health treatments is to complement psychotherapy and medications. TMS is a common treatment for patients that don’t respond to medications for depression and anxiety.
What Psychological Disorder Does TMS Treat?
TMS treats various mental health disorders today. However, TMS’s first use was to treat depression. TMS psychological treatments for depression gained popularity in the 1990s as researchers in psychology and psychiatry conducted more research about rTMS. Over time, results of TMS based on research showed higher remission rates for patients with depression.
TMS is FDA-approved for patients with treatment-resistant depression. With positive results from TMS, psychiatry began exploring the benefits of TMS in other mental health disorders like anxiety. Treatment-resistant mental health problems open a larger research gap for TMS as a treatment for other mental health problems.
What Are The Dangers Of TMS Therapy?
TMS psychological treatments are non-invasive or non-surgical. Hence, there are no significant risks involved in undergoing TMS therapy. During treatment, you will be fully awake without general anesthesia. There might be side effects in TMS, but these are usually harmless. After treatment, you’ll probably feel lightheaded. Headaches and scalp discomfort are also possible.
You may also experience tingling or muscle twitching in the face as other common side effects. However, experts have not ruled out the possibility of seizures, mania, and hearing loss. These side effects are not common, and the occurrence rate of these side effects is remote. Overall, there is little to no danger in getting TMS therapy.
If you’re worried about these things, your doctor will order physical and psychiatric evaluations before letting you undergo TMS. These tests will help the attending physician assess your readiness to take TMS for your mental health problems.
5 Psychological Effects Of TMS
TMS has yielded possible effects on different mental health disorders. It was primarily designed for depression, but modern technology and research are now moving towards possibilities of TMS in treating multiple mental health disorders. Let’s go over the effects of TMS on widespread mental health problems:
1. Effects on Depression
In a TMS study by Philip G. Janicak and Mehmet E. Dokucu, the researchers pointed out the hypothesis of depression’s pathophysiology. This hypothesis exhibits that depression usually manifests between the prefrontal cortex and limbic regions (i.e., hippocampus, insula, amygdala, and anterior cingulate). A depressed person will likely have very little brain activity in these parts.
By positioning the TMS equipment over the affected parts, the magnetic field from the TMS will depolarize the neurons to release neurotransmitters. The study also mentioned that rTMS temporarily increases blood flow and metabolism in the area under the TMS coil.
2. Effects on Anxiety
In a 2019 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, the researchers looked at the relationship between prefrontal cortical activity and anxious arousal by applying TMS. Data gathered pre-, and post-TMS showed that the subjects reported less anxiety after active TMS and sham stimulation.
Anxiety triggers a lot of activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The study concluded that TMS could effectively reduce brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, effectively reducing anxiety levels.
3. Effects on Parkinson’s Disease
Research published in Nature showed stunning results with rTMS in treating freezing of gait, wherein a person with Parkinson’s can’t move while walking. The study discovered that performing rTMS over supplementary motor areas of the brain normalized abnormal brain function. The abnormal brain functions cause freezing of gait and disrupted brain connectivity patterns associated with Parkinson’s disease.
4. Effects on Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease causes memory loss and cognitive decline. While there’s no cure for this disease, TMS is still in its infancy stage. In the journal eNeuro, a study explored the possibility of TMS treating Alzheimer’s disease by targeting parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning. However, more research is needed to determine if TMS can improve the cognitive function of Alzheimer’s patients.
5. Effects on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Treating PTSD and other trauma-related disorders is possible and successful with TMS. Though researchers emphasize the need for more data, existing trials and papers on TMS for PTSD patients showed improved symptom reduction. A 2019 study showed that directing high frequencies over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex yielded a positive therapeutic effect on patients.
TMS psychological treatments are gaining momentum in psychiatry. With positive results from patients with treatment-resistant depression, many researchers are exploring TMS in other mental health disorders like anxiety, PTSD, and the like.
Start your TMS journey with Roots TMS. We offer cutting-edge TMS treatments for patients suffering from severe mental health disorders. In our eight years in the industry, we have helped more than 1,000 patients from different walks of life. Call us at (562) 268-5813 or fill out the contact form for a quick consultation.