Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or otherwise known as TMS, is a powerful and useful tool to treat patients with treatment-resistant depression. This treatment is typically for patients who have not found relief through other forms of treatment like psychotherapy and antidepressants.
TMS is contraindicated for those prone to seizures, has metallic implants in their skull, has cochalear implants, has implanted electrical devices, and unstable general medical disorders.
TMS technology has been developed in 1985 and has gained significant clinical interest for other neuropsychiatric uses. There is plenty of clinical evidence that has shown that TMS benefits patients with treatment-resistant depression. Two thirds of TMS patients eperienced wither full remission or noticable improvements to their mood. With it's full approval by the FDA, TMS has been revolutionizing the field of psychiatry to treat depression and other specialties as well. This devices uses magnetic fields similar to MRI technology to stimulate discreet cortical regions of the brain that in turn alters pathological activity involved with mood regulation. Functional imaging has also shown that TMS can change brain region activity remote from the site of stimulation.
TMS is usually safe and well tolerated. In a randomzied trial of 301 patients, discontinuation due to adverse effects was comparable for active and placebo TMS. The most serious adverse effect of TMS is generalized tonic-clonic seizures; however, this occurs in less than 0.1-0.5% of patients when safety guidelines are followed. Other common side effects include mild heachache and scalp pain, transient increase in auditory threshold, and vasovagal syncope.
TMS is an exciting and promising therapy that could provide relief for those experiencing symptoms of treatment resistant depression. Due to its ability to be delivered in an out-patient setting, patients have the flexibility to seek treatment in a way that does not disrupt their daily lives. TMS has a promosing future with current research being conducted to expand the applications in healthcare.
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