What is TMS?

Neuromodulation is defined as ” the alteration of nerve activity through the delivery of a stinulis”. TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) is one type of non invasive neuromodulation which improves nerve activity in the brain,  leading to an improvement of unwanted symptoms. 

The TMS has been in clinical use since 2008 and was approved by NICE for treatment of depression in 2015. It is being offered by some NHS trusts in the UK.

Treatment with TMS is effective and may offer significant response rates, which have been reported at 30-60% depending on the study. Research shows response rates equal to that of antidepressants, but without the long-standing side effects. This, however, varies and a small number of patients unfortunately are shown to not respond to TMS.

The response to treatment is often noticeable after 4 weeks of treatment, on average.

TMS is a safe treatment and does not require sedation or an anaesthetic.

The TMS uses a special coil to deliver a sequence of electromagnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain working with the brain’s neuro plasticity.

These electromagnetic pulses are converted to electrical signals in the brain.

Since brain cells use electrical impulses to communicate with each other, this promotes restoration of healthy communication between various interconnected regions of the brain and hence aids healing.

Depending on what may be needed, your psychiatrist can decide to either enhance or slow down the electrical activity of the target region of the brain in order to alleviate symptoms. The TMS also modulates/primes brain cells to be less or more responsive to internal electrical traffic.

Benefits of TMS

1. Non-Invasive: TMS is a non-invasive treatment that does not require surgery or anesthesia. Unlike other brain stimulation treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), TMS does not induce seizures or require sedation.

2. Low Side Effects: TMS has fewer side effects compared to traditional antidepressant medication, which can cause a range of physical and emotional side effects. Common side effects of TMS include mild headache and scalp discomfort, which typically resolve within a few hours.

3. Effective Treatment for Depression: TMS has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression, with remission rates ranging from 30% to 60%. It may also be effective for other mood disorders, such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

4. No Drug Interactions: TMS does not interact with medication or require patients to taper off medication before treatment. This makes it a safe treatment option for patients who are taking multiple medications or have complex medical conditions.

5. Fast Treatment: TMS treatment sessions are typically 30–60 minutes long or shorter depending on treatment protocol used and can be administered on an outpatient basis. Patients do not need to stay in a hospital or treatment centre and can resume their daily activities immediately following treatment.

6. Potential for Long-Term Remission: Studies have shown that the benefits of TMS may last for several months or even years following treatment. This can provide long-term relief for patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Overall, TMS is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with depression and other mood disorders who have not responded to other treatments. It is a low-risk, non-invasive procedure with few side effects and the potential for long-term remission.