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Does TMS Cause Memory Loss?

Does TMS Cause Memory Loss?

Does TMS Cause Memory Loss?

Published: August 4, 2022

Undergoing treatment of any kind can be anxiety-inducing. Having a full understanding of the treatment you choose is important, both for your own peace of mind and for your recovery outcomes. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an innovative form of therapy that is effective in the treatment of mental health disorders and chronic pain.

TMS therapy has been comprehensively studied for its effects on cognition and memory. Numerous clinical trials have proven that TMS therapy does not have any negative impact on cognition or concentration, nor does it cause memory loss.

What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) - sometimes known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation - is a cutting-edge therapy method that works by administering gentle magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in specific areas of the brain. The results of TMS can cause profound mood and behavior improvements.

TMS is an FDA-approved therapy method that is effective in treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction. It is an evidence-based treatment option for a range of mental health concerns.

This therapy modality is effective in individuals with treatment-resistant depression symptoms and therefore can provide a light in the dark for many individuals. TMS can offer long-term change without any damaging side effects. Usually, individuals will take part in an outpatient program that could involve daily sessions for a period of 2 to 3 months. This makes TMS therapy a flexible treatment option that can be slotted into your schedule without too much disruption.

How Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Work?

Research has found that individuals who experience certain psychological disorders, such as major depressive disorder or anxiety, may have altered activity levels in certain areas of the brain which affect mood and behavior. Furthermore, they can impact cognitive function, including reward, motivation, and attention. 

The function of TMS is to rebalance the brain's activity, particularly in an area called the prefrontal dorsolateral cortex.  TMS therapy involves using an electromagnetic coil that produces a magnetic field that passes through the individual's scalp. This, in turn, produces short electrical currents to the brain neurons which can result in stimulated activity.

A course of TMS can have lasting effects on the individual, and improvements in mood and behavior can be seen for up to a year after TMS sessions end.

Is TMS Suitable for Everybody?

Although TMS is a safe and non-invasive procedure, there are some individuals who should not choose this form of therapy. Individuals with metal implants in their head are in this category, as the practice of TMS could heat up, alter, or move the implants which can have severe impacts on the individual.

Dental implants and fillings are safe in this context, but the following are not:

  • Deep-brain stimulators
  • Aneurysm clips and coils
  • Electrodes
  • Metallic face tattoos
  • Other metal objects in or near the head

Additionally, individuals who associate with any of the following categories should seek advice from a healthcare professional before embarking on TMS therapy. Those who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have previously had TMS
  • Have co-existing physical or mental health conditions
  • Have a family history of seizures or epilepsy
  • Have a brain injury
  • Are currently taking any medication

What Are the Side Effects of TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation does not usually have severe side effects. The most common, if felt at all, are mild headaches and scalp discomfort. These side effects are short-lived and reduced throughout treatment.

Some less typical side effects include jaw and muscle pain in the face. If felt at all, these symptoms are temporary. There is a small risk of seizures in this therapy modality, however, the risk is similar - or less - than the risk of other antidepressant medications.

Related article: Is TMS Painful?

Can TMS Cause Memory Loss?

There is a common misconception that TMS may impact memory function and produce memory loss. Extensive research has examined this topic to ensure the utmost safety and full therapeutic benefit for all individuals who undergo TMS.

A 2011 study looked at the impact of TMS on the hippocampus. This found that the therapy actually increased the growth of new brain cells in this region. This re-growth may be responsible for the antidepressant effect.

TMS has also been linked to increased brain performance. Clinical trials demonstrated this when a group of individuals had a 31% improvement in recollection and memory, compared to 2.8% in the control group. Further research and clinical trials have backed this up. A 2016 study found that both depressed and non-depressed individuals had increased working memory performance following TMS.

One 2011 clinical trial found that young adults experienced better performance in encoding and retrieving memories following this therapy. Research has also looked into the effectiveness of this treatment in Alzheimer's patients, with results showing conclusive improvements in memory and cognition, with results lasting for upwards of one week.

Although other brain stimulation treatments exist, TMS therapy differs in the lack of negative side effects. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or 'shock therapy', is an older brain stimulation technique and is linked with moderate to severe memory loss. It is common for patients treated with ECT to lose important memories from their lives following treatment. Often ECT and TMS are linked because they both work by stimulating the brain; however, this is a damaging association. Research shows us that in fact, TMS treatment can prevent memory loss, whereas ECT can perpetuate memory loss.

TMS Therapy at GIA Miami

At GIA Miami, we are experts in the field of TMS therapy. Among our team are some of the world's expert scholars and practitioners in the treatment. Our founder, Dr. Bonci, has pioneered groundbreaking research on the use of TMS therapy for addiction, leading to the certification of the treatment in the European Union.

We offer flexible programs, tailored to all of our client's unique needs. We use a combination of traditional and alternative therapies, including TMS, group and individual therapy.

TMS has been a lifeline for individuals struggling with mental health conditions around the world. For some people, it can offer a path to wellness and recovery, where no other treatment could.

Read more: Can TMS worsen depression?

Get in Touch Today

If you are looking for a way out of your substance misuse disorder or a mental health condition, get in touch with us today. We treat a number of different conditions with a range of cutting-edge treatment modalities. Call us today for a free consultation.

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