TMS: How It Works
TMS modulates key areas of the brain that are associated with depression, stimulating underactive regions or inhibiting overactive regions in patients with depression, thereby allowing for therapeutic alleviation of depression and other psychiatric conditions.
TMS works by directly altering the functioning of various structures of the brain and their associated networks, thus acting as one of the most powerful noninvasive methods for depression treatment. More specifically, the pulsing magnetic field will either excite or depolarize all of the neurons, depending on the protocol employed, within approximately a 1-2" inch diameter. This effectively acts to “turn on” or “turn off” specific aspects of brain function and thereby neuromodulate dysfunction. By intervening in this underlying neurophysiology, TMS helps to create an enriching environment for neuroplasticity, i.e. the ability of the brain to change. Typically when TMS is applied to areas of the brain related to depression it results in the functional reorganization of neural communications, and thus provides relief from depression, anxiety, and Anhedonia. Co-morbid symptoms of depression are similarly addressed.TMS, though recently approved in the USA by the FDA in 2008, has been widely investigated in Neuroscience and Neurology applications since 1985, and has been available clinically in Europe since approximately 1995.
TM: How Well Does TMS Work?
Over 50% of our treatment resistant patients have gone on to recover from major depression after TMS therapy along with maintenance medications, while an additional 20-30% recover more than 50% from their presenting depression.
Several studies have shown that TMS can be as effective as ECT in many cases [Connoly 2012[i] ; Dunner, O’ Reardon et al 2014], finding comparable efficacy rates for ECT and TMS in the treatment of depression, particularly when it comes to endurance of effect.