Countless thousands of people suffer from depression. In fact, there are an estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from symptoms of depression. Depression can interfere with every aspect of you life. Many people are helped by taking antidepressants, however, there are many people who can’t take antidepressants, or if they do, they don’t get the relief they need. In 2008, the USDA approved a new method for treating depression which is called TMS. TMS for depression, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy, is able to help people who do not respond to antidepressant medications or those who suffer intolerable side effects from taking these medications.
With TMS for depression, a metal coil is placed on the scalp through which rhythmic, repetitive magnetic pulses are directed to the brain area where mood neurons are stimulated. The idea behind this concept of TMS for depression is that the brain has mood regulating neurons that may be under active. When they are stimulated by TMS for depression it can bring relief by firing up these mood regulating neurons so that they are back to normal. TMS for depression is a very safe therapy to use on people who are suffering from chronic depression and who are not getting relief from antidepressants. In fact, TMS for depression works even better than ECT, which is an electro convulsive therapy.
ECT can cause memory loss. TMS for depression has no such side effect. The normal course of treatment for TMS for depression is a 40 minute treatment that you take every day for 4 to 6 weeks. TMS for depression is done in a physician’s office. The magnetic fields used in TMS for depression are the same kind that are used for MRIs. When treatment is being done, the magnetic fields produce a small electrical current that reaches about 2 to 3 centimeters in the brain where they can stimulate the release of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
The coil is placed on the scalp near the left prefrontal cortex, where the mood regulation neurons are. Studies have shown that half of the patients treated with TMS for depression show marked improvement. The findings also show that one in every three persons who undergo Tms for depression experience complete relief. If you are taking medications for depression and it isn’t helping, talk to your medical doctor about whether or not getting TMS would be a viable alternative for treating your depression.