Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and How Can It Treat Depression and Anxiety?

What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and How Can It Treat Depression and Anxiety?

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Transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS is a non-surgical technique that makes use of magnetic fields to invigorate neurons to help alleviate psychological distress. TMS is usually utilised where other therapies for mental illness have not performed effectively.

This stress therapy requires the delivery of repeated magnetic stimuli, and it’s known as repeated TMS or rTMS.

Here are the details you will need regarding this treatment and how effective it is for curing depression and anxiety.

What is transcranial magnetic stimulation and how does it function?

Depression is a serious medical disorder, but conventional therapies aren’t beneficial for all individuals. Usually, repeated TMS is opted for when conventional therapies like drugs and psychotherapy do not function well. 

TMS treatment utilises a coil which is placed over the prefrontal cortex by a trained TMS technician. This coil is designed to deliver highly focused magnetic pulses. These electromagnetic fields created by the magnetic coil turn on and off very rapidly. 

Although they are small, induced electric currents in the brain can cause the neurons to become more active. It is this stimulation which is believed to trigger changes in the brain circuits responsible for depression. In other words, the magnetic pulses delivered from the TMS coil reinvigorate parts of the brain that might not be working properly in depressed patients

Current research suggests that when small electrical currents are induced in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, there is an increase in blood flow and glucose metabolism, leading to increased neuron activity which appears to elevate mood. 

The TMS coil stimulation in the part of the brain that regulates mood is believed to activate brain cells, which triggers a cascade of neurochemical events, including the release of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) helping normalise neurotransmitter function.

Effective treatment for depression and anxiety 

Side effects of behavioral disturbances and psychological problems are believed to stem partially from disturbance of behavior regulation in the brain’s empathic cores. The acknowledged TMS depression therapeutic approach uses fast, stimulating, high-frequency vibrations on the left side of the scalp, with a focus on the prefrontal part of the brain.

Since depression and anxiety are rather similar and often occur at the same time, the psychological signs of anxiety should respond accordingly and keep improving together with the depressive symptoms. TMS also helps, because people experience relaxation from stimulus stimuli, as regions of the brain that are dysfunctional in stress and distress are taken back to regular stages of excitation, as demonstrated by cognitive performance.

Yet anxiety has a presence of its own. Anxiety is believed to be the product of a misapprehension of electrical impulses, attributed to both excitable regions and under-active parts of the brain, causing a sense of intense anxiety or panic, contributing to visible signs such as pounding the pulse, difficulty breathing, GI discomfort and extreme tiredness.

The hypothesis for the diagnosis of TMS-specific fear was centred on the idea that the right part of the brain is believed to transmit inhibiting messages to the left. Thus, if the brain’s right side were exposed to repetitive sluggish, inhibiting, minimum-frequency stimuli, it will hold back regions of the brain that are still hyperactive, with a soothing impact on the anxiety-ridden brain.

Final word 

TMS is an effective treatment for the cure of mental challenges such as depression and anxiety. There are certain cases where psychotherapy does not prove helpful, and that’s where TMS comes into action. 


Image credit: Freepik

The rTMS  aims not just to provide rTMS treatment, they also aim to reduce mental health stigma.

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