Have you ever heard of a non-invasive therapy that uses magnetic fields to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders? If not, you must learn about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy. It is a proven treatment option for depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and many other conditions. It has been growing rapidly in popularity—and rightly so! But what is the science behind TMS? How do magnetic fields influence the functioning of the brain? Let’s dive into the study of TMS therapy and explore the science behind it.
What Is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. TMS is used for research purposes and as a clinical treatment for certain psychiatric and neurological disorders.
The basic principle behind TMS is that magnetic fields can generate electric currents in the brain. The magnetic field induces electrical currents in the neurons of the brain. Depending on the parameters of the magnetic field (such as its strength, frequency, and duration), TMS can either excite or inhibit the activity of the neurons. This can be used to selectively target and stimulate specific regions of the brain.
TMS is usually administered in brief pulses, with each pulse lasting only a fraction of a second. The intensity of the magnetic field is typically adjusted to the individual’s motor threshold, which is the minimum intensity needed to produce a visible muscle twitch in response to the stimulation. The frequency and duration of the pulses can also be adjusted to target different brain regions and produce different effects.
The exact mechanisms by which TMS produces its effects still need to be fully understood. Still, it is thought to involve changes in the activity of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in the brain. TMS has been shown to increase the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in mood regulation and other functions.
TMS has a number of potential applications in both research and clinical settings. It is often used to map the function of specific brain regions, to study the neural basis of cognitive and emotional processes, and to investigate the effects of various drugs on brain function. In clinical settings, TMS is used to treat various conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and certain types of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
What Can You Expect from a TMS Therapy?
Read on as we discuss what to expect when you schedule a TMS therapy session.
Before starting the treatment, the patient will undergo a thorough evaluation to determine the appropriate parameters for their individual treatment. This will typically involve measuring the patient’s motor threshold, which is the minimum intensity of the magnetic field needed to produce a visible muscle twitch in response to the stimulation. The healthcare professional may also assess your symptoms, medical history, and suitability for TMS therapy.
Based on the results of your evaluation, a treatment plan will be developed that outlines the number and frequency of TMS sessions you will receive, as well as the duration of each session.
During each TMS session, you will sit in a comfortable chair, and a coil will be placed on your scalp over the targeted brain region. You will feel a tapping or clicking sensation on your scalp as the magnetic field is delivered to your brain. Depending on the treatment plan, the session typically lasts between 15 to 40 minutes.
Most people tolerate TMS therapy well and experience few side effects. However, some people may experience mild discomfort or headache during or after the session. These side effects are usually mild and temporary.
Frequency of Sessions
Individuals may be advised multiple sessions based on their condition for the best possible results. The frequency of TMS sessions may vary depending on the treatment plan. Typically, patients receive TMS therapy five days a week for four to six weeks, followed by maintenance sessions as needed.
After completing TMS therapy, you will have follow-up evaluations with your healthcare professional to assess your progress and determine the need for additional treatment.
What Happens During TMS Therapy?
During TMS therapy for depression, a coil of wire is placed on the patient’s scalp, typically over the left prefrontal cortex. The coil is connected to a TMS device that generates brief magnetic pulses that pass through the skull and into the brain. The magnetic field induces electrical currents in the neurons of the brain, which can either excite or inhibit their activity depending on the parameters of the pulse.
During the treatment, the patient sits in a comfortable chair or reclines on a couch. Earplugs are typically provided to protect the patient’s hearing from the sound of the magnetic pulses. The therapist will then position the coil over the targeted area of the brain and deliver the pulses of magnetic stimulation.
The treatment typically consists of daily sessions lasting 15 to 40 minutes each for several weeks. The number of sessions and the duration of the treatment may vary depending on the individual patient’s needs.
Patients may experience mild discomfort or a tingling sensation during the treatment, but it is generally not painful. Some patients may experience mild headaches or other side effects, which are typically temporary and resolve quickly.
In What Way Can a Magnet Influence the Functioning of My Brain?
The magnetic field generated by the TMS coil can induce electrical currents in the neurons of the brain, which can either excite or inhibit their activity depending on the parameters of the pulse. By targeting specific regions of the brain with TMS, researchers, and clinicians can selectively modulate the activity of those regions, leading to changes in brain function.
For example, TMS has been shown to increase the activity of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region involved in mood regulation, and is therefore being investigated as a treatment for depression. TMS has also been shown to improve cognitive function in certain populations, such as individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
The science behind TMS therapy has shown that magnetic fields can influence the functioning of the brain and improve the symptoms of various neurological and psychiatric disorders. If you or someone you know is suffering from these conditions and looking for a non-invasive and effective treatment option, then TMS therapy might be the answer. Pristine Mental Health is here to provide you with the best TMS therapy services that can help you overcome your struggles and live a happier life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward a better future.