Of the nearly 9 million Americans being treated for major depressive disorder (MDD), over 30% fail to respond to conventional antidepressant medications. Called treatment-resistant depression (TRD), this condition provides a challenge for patients and caregivers alike.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 for TRD, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) provides an alternate, drug surgery-free therapy that helps some patients with depression find relief. The team at Premier Psychiatry in Orland Park, Illinois, offers TMS to their patients with MDD.
For most people suffering from MDD, a combination of medication and psychotherapy helps to ease the symptoms and lift the burden of depression. Sometimes, it may take time to find the right drug and the most effective dosage. For some, these therapies produce little to no result.
TRD accounts for much of the medical expenses and lost work time for patients being treated for depression. Therapies beyond antidepressant medications and counseling become necessary for patients with TRD.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
The brain and nerves run on tiny, synchronized electrical signals. As we know from heart pacemakers and spinal cord stimulators, it’s possible to alter the performance of nerve tissue using controlled artificial signals. This is useful for regulating heartbeats and disrupting nerve signals.
The brain is a much more sensitive part of your body. Instead of using direct electrical signals to trigger a response, transcranial magnetic stimulation uses magnetic fields to influence the natural electrical activity in your brain. TMS is noninvasive. All the apparatus remains outside your body.
TMS uses a magnetic field that switches on and off using a variety of pulse patterns tuned to different frequencies and strengths to alter electrical conditions through the skin to treat certain mental health conditions when they won’t respond to conventional treatments.
Am I a candidate for TMS?
TMS has FDA approval for use with four conditions. These are:
- Major depressive disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Quitting smoking
- Migraine headaches
In addition, research is ongoing into other applications for TMS. The procedure may prove useful to treat many other conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Bipolar disorder
- Chronic pain
- Complications of stroke
- Eating disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
As well as its primary use as an alternative treatment for TRD, TMS is also an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy for patients who can’t undergo that procedure or when it proves ineffective.
When TMS can’t be used
TMS isn’t suitable for everyone. Any metallic or electrical implant into the skull affects the applied magnetic field producing unpredictable results. These include metal plates, cochlear implants, or other hearing-related implants. If you have epilepsy or a history of seizures, TMS could, in rare cases, trigger additional seizures.
The best way to learn if TMS is right for you is in consultation with our team at Premier Psychiatry. Contact our office by phone or online to schedule your visit today.