Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Using Magnetism to Heal the Brain
In one of my You Tube videos, I describe how inducing a gran mal seizure in the brain somehow reboots the brain and brings people out of a deep depression. Based on the popularity of that video, there seems to be a lot of interest in healing depression by directly impacting the brain’s electromagnetic system.
With this in mind, I would now like to talk about what I call “the cousin of ECT,” Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, also know as TMS. TMS is an is an FDA approved procedure that uses a powerful magnet to deliver an electric jolt to the brain in the same manner as ECT. Scientists believe that the technique works like a heart defibrillator. The electric voltage that passes through the brain causes its neurons to fire at once and somehow this action seems to reset the rate at which the brain releases its various neurotransmitters.
How is TMS Implemented?
This is how TMS is delivered. The TMS device delivers a rapid electrical pulse to the brain for 4 seconds followed by a 26 second break. The pulse is directed to the pre-frontal cortex, which is thought to be an area of mood regulation. When the pulse hits, it feels like a light tapping on the head. Although there is pressure, there is no pain. Unlike ECT, there is no need to use anesthesia or other form of sedation.
The treatment is done in the doctor’s office on an outpatient basis. It lasts about 40 minutes and is given every day for five days a week and continues from four to a six weeks until an improvement or remission is achieved.
What are the Side Effects of TMS?
Because TMS is not as invasive as ECT and does not produce a seizure in the brain, it has milder side effects. The most important thing is that unlike ECT, there is no memory loss. The most common side effect are unpleasant scalp sensations at or near the treatment site, or headaches. These events are passing; they gradually diminish over the course of the treatment.
What Have Been the Results of TMS?
In clinical trials, a number of people who have failed to improve by using medication and other therapies have responded to RTMS treatments. In one randomized control study, twice as many people improved who had the treatment compared to the control group. In my practice, I have seen one client achieve mild improvement from the process.
How Available is TMS?
Because it has been approved by the FDA, TMS is no longer and experimental therapy and is slowly gaining in popularity. It is offered at highly regarded organizations such as Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. In terms of Oregon where I live, TMS is offered through then Kaiser system in Portland and also at a clinic in in Corvallis, Oregon. Check with the mental health agencies in your area.
In conclusion, TMS is a new, no-invasive treatment that uses magnetism to heal the brain. Like ECT, TMS will most likely be used to “jump start” the brain so that other forms of medical care can then be used to maintain the patient’s well-being over the long haul.