If you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), you might be considering Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. If so, you may have asked yourself a decently common question, “Will TMS affect my personality?”
The simple answer is “no”, and here’s why.
What is TMS?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-cleared psychological treatment method for adults who haven’t seen significant improvement through traditional antidepressants and therapy. It is specifically geared toward patients with MDD, but the FDA has also approved it for supplemental treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
TMS shows promise for other mental health issues. These include Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, the FDA has not yet approved TMS as a treatment for these conditions.
How Does TMS Work?
TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating the brain. It sends pain-free and highly targeted magnetic pulses to underactive areas of the brain.
The logic behind this treatment model is that TMS can help resolve decreased (or increased) brain activity seen in those with depression. Correlation of brain activity in certain areas can be tied to symptoms of depression. These symptoms include low energy, insomnia, reduced interest, and inability to concentrate. TMS works by reactivating the brain to remediate and/or remove these symptoms at the source.
Will TMS Affect My Personality?
Because of the way that TMS interacts with the brain, many patients worry that it will change their personalities. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. TMS will not change a person’s personality either permanently or temporarily.
What TMS can do is act as a mood stabilizer. When antidepressant medications aren’t enough to balance out neurotransmitters in the brain, TMS can work to jumpstart and excite them with tiny electrical pulses.
The confusion and concern about TMS’s long-term effects stem from a misunderstanding of the link between personality and depression symptoms. As early as 2011, psychologists have determined that depression is more common in people with certain personality traits.
The Big 5 Personality Model is most often referenced to describe this connection. This model defines 5 main features of personality: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Psychoanalysts have noted that people with high conscientiousness and neuroticism, in particular, are more likely to experience depression.
Correlation is not causation, though. Having these personality traits does not ensure that you will have depression, nor will treating your depression remove these personality traits.
It is important here to differentiate between personality and mood. Mood can be a feature of personality, but they are not interchangeable.
People with high conscientiousness and neuroticism may continue to have so after treatment, traditional or TMS. The only difference is that they will be more capable of emotional regulation. In other words, they will be better skilled at recognizing their own moods and controlling them.
More Information at Brain Center TMS
If you asked, “Will TMS affect my personality?”, chances are that you have other questions about TMS treatment.
Brain Center TMS provides some of the most technologically advanced treatment options for mental health and personality disorders. We specialize exclusively in TMS for both inpatient and outpatient services in the San Diego area.
Follow this link to find out more about our team or schedule your free consultation today.