Transmagnetic stimulation or Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a fairly straightforward procedure that is designed to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain in order to counteract the effects of depression. Usually, this is not used until other treatments for depression have been tried and not worked.
TMS is fairly new to the scene as it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008. Although there have been numerous studies that have demonstrated the overall effects of this treatment, there are still questions as to the long-term effect which will take years to fully understand.
How Transmagnetic Stimulation is Applied
TMS uses an electromagnetic coil that is placed against the scalp near the forehead. When switched on the nerve cells in the brain are affected which control mood and depression symptoms. The treatments do not require the use of other drugs or stimulants and the overall effect can vary from patient to patient, although it is generally mild in nature.
How TMS Works
Despite years of study, how TMS works to relieve depression is still not fully understood. The theory is that the magnetic pulses it sends out stimulate the nerve cells that are at the center of the mood control for your mind. The stimulation appears to impact how this part of the brain is functioning and may improve the overall mood and ease the symptoms of depression.
It is true that transmagnetic is the least invasive of all brain stimulation procedures to treat depression when compared to deep brain or vagus nerve stimulation treatments. There is no need for surgery or electrodes being implanted as well. Plus, it differs from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) because it does not cause seizures or require being fully sedated.
However, this does not mean that transmagnetic stimulation is without side effects or risks.
The Side Effects of TMS
Most of the side effects caused by transmagnetic stimulation are relatively minor and after a few treatments will tend to disappear as the body gets used to the effects.
- Spasms of the Facial Muscles
- Discomfort at the Site of the Stimulation
- Discomfort from the Noise during Stimulation
These are the most common symptoms which are somewhat rare. However, there are more serious systems that are very rare, but have been documented to happen in certain patients from the effects of the treatment.
- Hearing Loss from Inadequate Protection.
- Mania mostly in people from bi-polar disorder.
Plus, it must be noted that there has been no study for long term effects simply because not enough time has passed to know what they might be. As it is, transmagnetic therapy has been known to work in patients who have tried and failed in other treatments while only having mild side effects.
For those who have used standard talk or drug therapies, transmagnetic stimulation certain offers the promise of affecting the brain cells that control mood directly and having a greater impact overall than previous treatments.