TMS – An Overview
The most recent addition to available treatments for depression is rTMS (repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), or TMS. This represents a new chapter in psychiatric treatment. We are entering an age where psychiatrists and neurologists can identify the areas of the brain that are involved in causing neuropsychiatric disorders and applying treatments directly to those areas. It is known that magnetic impulses applied to the head can cause nerve cells to fire. TMS involves applying magnetic waves to the left surface of the brain in an area called the prefrontal cortex. Nerve cells from this area directly connect with the parts of the brain that are involved in the regulation of emotion, appetite, sex and sleep—the very areas that are not functioning in clinical depression. What TMS does is allow these brain areas to start functioning normally, and in so doing relieve the symptoms of depression.
Overall, TMS attempts to do the same thing that antidepressants do: namely, to increase the amount of brain chemicals which are thought to be deficient in depression. This correlates with the gradual decrease in depressive symptoms seen with treatment.
TMS is not a treatment of last resort. Rather, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sees this as a mainline treatment for clinical depression which will become routine. If the patient has failed over the next several years to improve with antidepressant treatment–prescribed at the proper dose and length of time–then they are eligible for TMS treatment.
NeuroStar TMS Therapy is contraindicated in patients with non-removable metallic objects in or around the head, such as ear implants, carotid stents, CSF shunts and cardiac stents and valves.
A Short History on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Since the 1980s, transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used to study the nerve fibers that carry information about movements from the brain to the spinal cord and onto the muscles. In the late 1990s physicians began to explore the therapeutic potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of a variety of diseases, with depression being the most thoroughly studied to date. Since then, more than 30 randomized, controlled trials studying transcranial magnetic stimulation as a treatment for depression have been published by investigators throughout the world.
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