What Does TMS do to the Brain?

Mar 9, 2021

Have you tried all the conventional methods for treating your depression and discovered that none of them work for you? Treatment-resistant depression isn’t uncommon. While standard SSRIs and SNRIs paired with therapy are generally effective in treating depression, many people don’t get the relief they need.

TMS therapy, however, may be able to provide the needed relief these people are looking for. TMS, short for transcranial magnetic stimulation, is a modern technology that may help with your treatment-resistant depression, but many people are afraid of it (and they shouldn’t be!). 

But what does TMS do to the brain? 

We want to help you decide if TMS is the right depression treatment for you by explaining how it can help. Keep reading to learn more. 

How Does TMS Work? 

Using a specially made magnetic coil, TMS technicians can target specific regions of the brain correlated to symptoms that need treatment. This process starts with the patient undergoing an assessment of symptoms and an EEG to identify brainwave abnormalities.

With a magnetic coil that the technician places over their target, TMS produces magnetic fields. These fields are accurate, only penetrating several centimeters into the brain so that they only hit the targeted area.

In depression, TMS targets parts of the brain that play a role in mood regulation. Typically, the main focus in TMS for depression is addressing low activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). In doing this, the brain stimulates neurological pathways.

The neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are linked to depression. The electrical currents stimulate those neurotransmitters to healthy levels, alleviating symptoms of depression. 

Is It Safe? 

While TMS does affect the brain directly, it’s safe. Many people associate physical treatments like this with other forms of depression treatments that are no longer standard practice in the mental health field due to high levels of danger.

TMS is non-invasive. It’s not painful and each session lasts less than an hour. You’re able to drive home and do your normal activities. You also stay awake for the entire session. 

It shouldn’t result in any adverse side-effects like some medications or other alternative treatments do. 

Is One Treatment Enough?

While you may feel the effects of TMS after the first session, it’s a process that lasts for a long time. Intensive TMS treatment is 5 days per week for 25-30 sessions. 

Relief tends to come after several weeks of sessions which isn’t dissimilar to some medications.

What Does TMS Do to The Brain Long-Term? 

While many people find success with TMS therapy, they should keep in mind that most people need to do multiple rounds of treatment if they want to maintain their results (just as people who take medication need to continue taking it).

That said, most good mental health centers offer TMS in conjunction with other forms of therapy, like talk therapy. This helps with long-term results. 

Is TMS Therapy For You? 

If you’re wondering “what does TMS do to the brain?” you don’t have to worry. TMS is a safe and effective treatment that helps your neurotransmitters become more stimulated through re-wired neural networks and electric stimulation. 

When used together with talk therapy, it’s a great solution for treatment-resistant depression with great results in a short period of time.

Does this sound right for you? If so, we’re here to help. Contact us for TMS treatment in San Diego, CA, and arrange an appointment today.

Considering TMS Treatment? Schedule a Consultation!

Tired of the results you’re getting from your standard treatment? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation may be able to increase your chances of long-term remission, reducing your symptoms and allowing you to live a more joyful life.

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