Depression is often treated with antidepressant medications; however, many people do not receive sufficient benefit from antidepressant medications, and many cannot tolerate the side effects caused by the drugs. A great alternative is available in our Advanced TMS using the NeuroStar TMS Therapy System, but how does it work?
The state of the art in the field of psychiatry expands every day. One day we hope to be able to answer the question of how transcranial therapy works. We are learning more every day about the effect of TMS on the brain, but today the most accurate answer is that we don’t fully know exactly why magnetic stimulation therapy works so well.
Our Advanced TMS transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy uses repetitive, short, MRI-like magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain thought to control mood. It is sometimes referred to as rTMS which stands for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. We know that as our NeuroStar TMS Therapy System continues to deliver magnetic pulses to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, there’s an amazingly good chance that our patients will respond to the treatment.
With this treatment, a remarkably high percentage of people go into clinical remission, which means they are as free of depression as anyone who has never been clinically depressed would be. Researchers will continue to figure it out, but, in the meantime we have an effective, new, high tech treatment for depression.
NeuroStar TMS Therapy® is an outpatient procedure. The typical treatment course consists of at least 5 treatments per week over a 4-6 week period for 20-30 treatments. Each depression treatment session lasts about an hour. Our Advanced TMS Therapy is:
- Non-invasive, meaning that it does not involve surgery. It does not require any anesthesia or sedation, as the patient remains awake and alert during the treatment. In fact, we sometimes have to remind our patients to stay awake because they are so relaxed during treatment, and because the TMS treatment chair is so comfortable.
- Non-systemic, meaning that it is not taken by mouth and does not circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body.
- FDA cleared for patients who have not benefited from prior antidepressant treatment.
For decades, researchers have sought safe and effective treatments for depression. However, there is no single depression treatment which has been proven to work for everyone. There is a great deal we don’t understand about how the brain works. Yet our understanding of how to treat brain illnesses is growing every day. TMS has greatly expanded our understanding of what can be done, without medicines, to modulate brain activity for the better.
We know that TMS stimulates brain cells, but we do not know yet just exactly all that is involved in making TMS such an effective treatment.
Of course, many efforts are underway to explore exactly what’s happening to cause beneficial effects when magnetic pulses are applied to areas of the brain, and there are many theories. Books have been written on the subject. We are always happy to discuss the theories with our patients, but the bottom line with this treatment, as with all psychiatric treatments, including medications, is there is a great deal that remains mysterious. That’s likely to remain true.
We recommend this video which does a great job of explaining TMS.