How TMS works

Dec 06, 2022
Brain imaging of patients with Depression vs after treatment with TMS
TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a treatment for Depression and other Psychiatric condition such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There are clear imaging proof of TMS efficacy in Depressive Disorder.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an innovative treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. It is  also an approved treatment for other psychiatric conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Migraine and Smoking Cessation.

What is TMS:

TMS is repeated pulsatile magnetic stimulation to specific areas of the brain that has proven to be effective treatment for Depression and other psychiatric condition. 

Scientists were aware through experiments conducted by Luigi Galvani, a prominent scientist of 18th century, that human cells can be stimulated by electricity. For a long time we have been treating diseases such as Depression by stimulating brain through electricity. A prominent treatment approach utilizing electricity is ECT or Electro Convulsive Therapy. Unfortunately, because of it's debilitating adverse impact such as memory loss, the use of ECT has been limited and yet to catch on to mainstream treatment. Another handicap of electrical stimulation is, despite innovative approach, scientists have not been able to focus electric energy to specific brain region for effective treatment.

With magnetic stimulation though effective energy can be reached to focussed brain cells that are proven to be impaired in certain conditions such as Depression and Anxiety Disorder resuting in signiifcant improvement of symptoms with minimal side effect.

How did TMS became a standard of treatment:

Anthony Barker, a noted physicist in Sheffield, UK, developed a stimulator in 1985, that could effectively deliver focussed magnetic stimulation and proved by stimulating certain areas in the brain can generate muscle stimulation in other regions of the body. Neurologists started using the stimulator to diagnose nerve damage in the body and gradually the mecahnism was used to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinsonism. It was noted though the treatment was also curing mental condition such as Depression.

Further research proved particular areas of the brain such as Anterior Cingulate Gyrus are impaired in conditions such as Depressive Disorder. By giving effective magnetic stimulation to those areas, noticeable improvement of the condition was seen. MRI imaging of brain of individuals suffering from Depression when compared to those treated with TMS clearly shows significant difference indicative of response to treatment.

Further research proved the efficacy of TMS as treatment for Depression was substantially more than medication management for the condition and TMS as treatment for Depressive Disorder was approved by FDA in 2008. Since then progression of treatment through Transcranial Magntic Stimulation has reached the realm of mainstream psychiatric intervention and often used to treat Treatment Resistant Depression or TRD. Most health insurances now approve the treatment with full coverage.

If you or your loved ones suffer from Depression, which has not been able to be fully treated with medication, do call us for a consultation for treatment with TMS.