How Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Rewires Your Brain

How Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Rewires Your Brain

Depression and anxiety are common problems in the United States. In fact, depression is the main cause of disability among people ages 15-44. 

While many forms of these disorders respond to traditional treatments, such as antidepressants and psychotherapy, this isn’t the case for everyone. The good news is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is giving relief to a growing number of patients.

Bryon K. Evans, MD, and his team at Psychiatric Consultants of Atlanta offer safe and effective relief for people of all ages living with depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness at their offices in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia.

If you’ve struggled to find effective solutions for your depression or anxiety, here’s how transcranial magnetic stimulation could help.

Hitting the brain’s reset button

The brain may be an organ, but it also operates on a complex electrical system that manages your mental and cognitive health. 

With a condition like depression, experts believe nerves in certain areas of the brain become underactive. If nerves in your brain don’t perform correctly, this can interfere with the production and release of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). Neurotransmitters help regulate stress and mood.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation helps “reset” the brain’s electrical system. It delivers small electrical currents to specific parts of the brain. This energy helps stimulate nerves in the area, improving brain chemical balance and communication in neural networks.

With regular treatment, this process can produce longer-lasting changes in brain activity, essentially rewiring how it works. 

How TMS therapy works

It may be scary to think of electrical currents being used to treat depression and anxiety. However, transcranial magnetic stimulation is completely noninvasive, safe, and well-tolerated.

When you have TMS therapy, you simply sit back and relax in our comfortable treatment chair. To perform your therapy, we place a round device against your head and turn it on. Once activated, the machine starts delivering the stimulating pulses. At this point, you may feel a tapping sensation or hear clicking sounds. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation treatments typically last 30-40 minutes, but your first session usually takes closer to an hour while your provider determines the ideal doses of magnetic energy needed to provide optimal results.

During TMS therapy, it’s common to develop a headache, but taking an over-the-counter pain reliever before your appointment can eliminate this issue. You could also experience lightheadedness, scalp discomfort, or tingling or twitching in your face. However, we can often reduce these responses by decreasing the magnetic energy delivered during your treatment. 

After having TMS therapy, you can resume normal activities immediately.

What to expect from TMS therapy

Studies show that 50-60% of people with treatment-resistant depression see a meaningful response with TMS therapy, and approximately 30% see their symptoms disappear entirely.

However, TMS therapy usually requires a series of treatments, often five sessions a week for 4-6 weeks. And, while TMS therapy can provide highly effective relief, future treatments may be necessary to maintain the positive results.

In most cases, people who have TMS therapy see their symptoms improve for several months to more than a year before coming back for additional treatments.

To see if transcranial magnetic stimulation can help with your depression or anxiety, book an appointment online or over the phone with Psychiatric Consultants of Atlanta today.

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