What Is TMS Therapy? Your Total Guide

by | Sep 27, 2023

Imagine you’re diving into the world of TMS therapy, a revolutionary approach that’s been making waves in the medical community. TMS is an innovative therapy that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.
It’s been showing promising results for various mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, and it’s been a beacon of hope for those who haven’t had success with traditional treatments

In this blog, we’re going to explore the ins and outs of TMS therapy, from its origins and development to how it actually works. We’ll delve into the different types of TMS, like traditional, accelerated, and deep TMS, and discuss their applications and benefits.

It’s like a journey into understanding how we can tap into the power of the brain to alleviate suffering and improve mental well-being. So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey together!

What Is TMS Therapy?

So, what is TMS therapy? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy is like a breath of fresh air in the world of mental health treatment. It’s a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. 

Think of it as a gentle way to “wake up” specific areas of the brain that might be underperforming, especially those areas that play a role in mood regulation.

So, when someone is dealing with conditions like depression, where certain parts of the brain aren’t as active as they should be, TMS can help rejuvenate those areas. It’s like giving a little nudge to the brain cells, encouraging them to get back to work and do what they should.

What’s cool about TMS is that it doesn’t have the side effects that medications often bring, like weight gain or sleep issues. It’s an excellent option for folks who haven’t had much luck with traditional treatments or who can’t tolerate the side effects of medications.

Now, it’s not a magic wand. It doesn’t work overnight and is not effective for everyone, but the results can be life-changing for some people. I’ve seen patients who’ve struggled with depression for years finally find relief and enjoy life again after undergoing TMS therapy.

Background of TMS Therapy

Background of TMS Therapy

TMS therapy started with exploring how electromagnetic fields interact with living organisms, a study known as bioelectromagnetics. Over time, the idea of using electromagnetic induction for healing and treatment purposes has grown, and TMS has emerged as a significant breakthrough in this area.

So, in TMS, a magnetic coil is placed on the person’s head and connected to a device that sends electric currents to the coil. The strength of the magnetic field generated is comparable to that of an MRI. This magnetic field then induces a small electric current in the brain, stimulating nearby nerve cells, much like a current applied directly to the surface of the brain would do.

This method was developed as a more benign and less intrusive alternative to other brain stimulation techniques, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which sends a strong electric shock through the head. Instead, TMS sends a series of weaker pulses to the brain, usually around ten pulses per second.

Now, TMS has seen quite a bit of evolution. We now have variations like repetitive high-frequency TMS (rTMS), which have shown promise in treating various conditions, especially in neurology and mental health. 

What’s great about TMS is that it doesn’t require any surgery or implantation of electrodes, and the effects can be adjusted based on the frequency and intensity of the magnetic pulses and the duration of the treatment.

Four Types of TMS Therapy

1. Traditional TMS

A person undergoing TMS will sit comfortably in a chair while a coil is placed near their head. This coil is the magic wand, sending magnetic pulses to the brain.

Now, these magnetic pulses are quite gentle. They’re about the same strength as the ones used in an MRI. They induce a small electric current in the brain, activating the nerve cells in the targeted area. It’s like giving a gentle nudge to those cells.

Traditional TMS usually involves sending these magnetic pulses regularly, typically around ten pulses per second. The person might feel a slight tapping sensation on their scalp, but it’s generally painless. Each session lasts about 30 to 60 minutes, and usually, people have these sessions five times a week for four to six weeks.

And here’s the exciting part — TMS has the power to rejuvenate areas of the brain that are underactive, especially those involved in mood regulation. So, for people struggling with conditions like depression, TMS gives hope, helping alleviate symptoms when other treatments haven’t worked.

2. Accelerated TMS

Accelerated TMS therapy is a novel approach to treating conditions like depression, where the standard TMS sessions are condensed into a shorter time frame.

Typically, TMS involves daily sessions over several weeks, but accelerated TMS aims to deliver the same number of sessions in a much shorter period, sometimes within a single week.

Accelerated TMS uses magnetic fields to kickstart electric currents in specific parts of the brain, mainly those that help control our mood, like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

These electric currents get the neurons firing, changing the release of neurotransmitters and affecting synaptic plasticity, which are vital for mood regulation and thinking.

By encouraging neuroplasticity, accelerated TMS can help create new neural connections and strengthen the existing ones, possibly leading to lasting improvements in mood and cognitive function.

Accelerated TMS often involves several sessions a day over consecutive days, making it more intensive compared to traditional TMS. The treatment is customized, adjusting the frequency and location of the magnetic pulses to what the individual needs. The response to the treatment is closely watched, and tweaks are made as needed to get the best results.

Accelerated TMS therapy is a hopeful option for those looking for quick relief from depressive symptoms, offering a condensed and intensive treatment plan.

3. Repetitive TMS (rTMS)

Repetitive TMS is a variation of TMS where the magnetic pulses are applied repetitively. The induced electric currents stimulate neuronal activity, modulating neurotransmitter release and synaptic plasticity, which is crucial for mood regulation and cognitive function.

rTMS provides many of the same benefits as traditional TMS therapy.

4. Deep TMS (dTMS)

Deep TMS is a form of TMS that utilizes a different coil technology to penetrate deeper into the brain compared to traditional TMS. The technology used by Deep TMS is known as the “H coil,” which emerged from research done at the U.S. National Institutes of Health in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Most coils used in traditional TMS provide a shallow magnetic field that affects neurons mainly on the brain’s surface. The H coil used in Deep TMS delivers magnetic fields that can reach deeper regions of the brain. The ability to reach deeper brain structures allows for the modulation of neural activity in areas that are not accessible by traditional TMS coils.

Deep TMS is used as a non-invasive treatment for conditions such as depression, OCD, and smoking addiction.

Repetitive TMS

Preparing for TMS Therapy: Before the Session

When you’re getting ready for a TMS session, think of it as preparing for a medical procedure, but it’s non-invasive and usually pretty straightforward.

Before your first TMS session, you’ll have a detailed medical evaluation to determine if TMS is a suitable treatment for you. Your healthcare provider will discuss the treatment plan, including the number of sessions needed.

On the day of your TMS session, you’ll want to wear comfortable clothes and avoid hair accessories (specifically anything metal). You can eat and drink as usual and take any daily medications you may have.

After the Session

After the session, you can usually return to your normal activities, including driving.

After your first treatment, it’s important to stick to your treatment schedule, even if you don’t see immediate results. Regular attendance is crucial for the best outcome. Keep open communication with your healthcare provider about how you’re feeling throughout the treatment course.

Remember, TMS is a commitment, and preparing adequately can help in making the process smoother and more effective. Keep in touch with your healthcare provider, and don’t hesitate to share your concerns or ask questions at any point in the treatment.

What TMS Treats

TMS can treat numerous disorders, even more than we’re listing here. This blog discusses the four most common types of mental health conditions: depression, OCD, anxiety, and PTSD. 

1. Depression:

Depression is a serious condition where someone constantly feels sad and hopeless and loses interest in things they once loved. It’s not just about feeling low or having a bad day; it’s a real mood disorder that impacts how you think, feel, and behave, and it can really affect your health.

People dealing with it might lose or gain a lot of weight, struggle with sleep, feel extremely tired, feel worthless or overly guilty, find it hard to concentrate or make decisions, and might even think about death or suicide a lot.

We don’t know exactly why people get depression, but it’s probably a mix of genetics, biology, environment, and psychological aspects. It can happen to anyone but usually starts when people are adults, and it seems to happen more often in women.

2. Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Imagine someone who has thoughts that just won’t leave their mind, thoughts that are often distressing and unwanted. That’s what happens to people dealing with Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder, or OCD.

It’s like their brain gets stuck on a particular thought or urge and just can’t let go. To cope with these distressing thoughts, they feel compelled to perform specific actions or routines, which we call compulsions.

It’s like a loop – the distressing thought triggers anxiety, and performing the compulsion relieves it temporarily, but then the thought comes back, and the cycle starts again. It’s really tough for those dealing with it, and understanding and support can go a long way in helping them manage it.

3. Anxiety

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. It’s like that feeling of unease or worry about what’s to come. But for some people, anxiety can be overwhelming and constant, interfering with their daily lives.

It’s like having this persistent feeling of fear or nervousness, and sometimes it can feel really intense, almost like you’re in danger, even when there’s no actual threat.

There are different types of anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, each with its own specific features. Still, they all revolve around the central theme of excessive fear and worry.

The good news is there are various treatments available, like therapy and medications, that can really help people manage their anxiety and lead fulfilling lives.

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Absolutely, so Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is when someone experiences severe stress or anxiety after witnessing or going through a traumatic event. It could be anything from a car accident to military combat.

People with PTSD often relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and they might feel sadness, fear, or anger more intensely. It’s like the mind gets stuck in this state of high alert, making them more reactive to things that remind them of the trauma.

They might also feel detached or estranged from others and find it hard to experience positive emotions. It’s really tough, but with the proper support and treatment, like therapy and sometimes medication, many people can manage their symptoms and even recover from PTSD.

TMS Therapy With Brain Health Center

At first, you probably asked, “what is TMS therapy?” Now, you might be asking, “where can I find TMS therapy?” or “how do I get started?” Those are great questions to ask!

Look no further than the Brain Health Center. Located in St. George, Utah, with the ability to treat distance patients, we offer state-of-the-art TMS treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, including the ones described in this blog.

So, what are you waiting for? Call us today at 435.900.0123, email us at hello@brainhc.com, or visit our website. Get started on your TMS therapy journey with Brain Health Center today!