TMS is an FDA-approved non-invasive method of brain stimulation using a modulated magnetic field and it is used for the treatment of severe depression. The treatment is highly effective as illustrated by statistics and the patients’ testimonials.
In TMS magnetic field is generated by an insulated coil placed over the scalp (how does TMS work). The coil is focused on an area of the brain involved in mood regulation. By turning ON/OFF electrical current flowing through the coil, a magnetic pulse in a form of changing magnetic flux is generated. A sequence of magnetic pulses painlessly passes through the skull and into the brain. The mechanism used to generate pulses is identical to the one used by a well known magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. The strength of the TMS pulses is similar to the MRI pulses.
When these pulses are administered in rapid succession, it is referred to as “repetitive TMS “. If properly administered, in most people TMS pulses produce longer-lasting changes in brain activity. In our practice, we use new deep TMS technology allowing us to stimulate deeper brain layers.
In practical systems, coils must be carefully designed to form a magnetic field that reaches areas of relevance at the proper depth. Complete systems include a helmet with a positioning device, control units, power modules, and cooler. During the procedure, patients wear the helmet that covers the coil. Through the 20 minutes, the procedure patient hears the sequence of clicks similar to those in the MRI machine.
You may find answers for the basic questions here:
- How does TMS work? TMS is a non-invasive procedure and this makes it hard to precisely measure the nature of the interaction of magnetic pulses with the brain (more information of TMS operation).
- Is it safe? TMS has been shown to be a safe and well-tolerated procedure. It is especially effective in the treatment of major depression in patients who have not benefited from antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate antidepressant medications due to side-effects (more about TMS safety).
- How can I get it done? Like many medical procedures before scheduling you for treatment, you must first be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine if TMS would be safe and appropriate for you. (more about TMS application process)
- What happens during the procedure? There are two distinctive procedures applied during the course of TMS treatment – mapping procedure and treatment procedure (more about what happens during the procedure)
- When is the TMS used? FDA approved the TMS for cases of severe depression, yet more research is done on the treatment of other mental conditions (more about the application of TMS)