Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses magnetic fields to improve symptoms of depression by stimulating nerve cells in your brain. Why would someone opt for magnetic fields to stimulate the brain? Here’s why: Antidepressants don’t work for everyone.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) boost serotonin and the production of new brain cells. But in some cases, the receptors in the brain can’t receive the serotonin or the serotonin can’t reach the receptors.
In either one of these situations, our board-certified neurologist Dr. David Sudderth offers TMS as an alternative to antidepressants. Read on to learn how this new technology works and find if you can benefit from it.
How transcranial magnetic stimulation works
During a transcranial magnetic stimulation session, Dr. Sudderth places an electromagnetic coil against your forehead. The electromagnet targets the nerve cells in your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain that’s more likely to be affected by depression.
The procedure is noninvasive and doesn’t involve any sedation. It takes less than 40 minutes to complete.
A 2012 study that looked at the efficiency of TMS found that 58% of patients who underwent magnetic stimulation showed improvements in their treatment-resistant depression. Of those patients, 37% achieved full remission.
Side effects and risks of TMS
The side effects of TMS are generally mild and may include the following:
- Discomfort in the treated scalp area
- Twitching and tingling of the facial muscles
TMS is considered a safe procedure with minimal side effects. However, there are a few steps you need to take before opting for this procedure, including undergoing a physical exam and a psychiatric evaluation to determine if TMS can help with your depression symptoms.
How to determine if you’re a good candidate for TMS
TMS creates a strong magnetic field and may not be recommended to patients who are currently using any of the following devices:
- Implants for hearing
- Magnetic implants
- Implanted electrical devices
- Implanted brain stimulators
- Stents and any other metal device implanted in the body
You should also share with us if you have a history of seizures or a family history of epilepsy, or suffer from comorbidities such as substance abuse, bipolar disorder, or psychosis. These can all impact your ability to get TMS, as can chronic headaches or brain damage.
The best candidate for TMS is in overall good health but doesn’t respond well to talk therapy or antidepressants for depression. If TMS works for you, you can expect your symptoms to either improve or go away altogether within a few weeks.
Improve your well-being with TMS
If your depression doesn’t respond well to traditional treatments, contact us to schedule an appointment at our office in Fort Myers, Florida, today.