TMS for Postpartum Depression

TMS for Postpartum Depression

Author: GIA Miami
Published: September 1, 2022

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, also known as TMS, is a form of therapy that uses electromagnetic pulses to combat depressive symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved TMS for the treatment of depression in 2008, in order to treat people who don't respond to antidepressant medications or psychotherapy.

It might sound like something from a film, but TMS is non-invasive and completely pain-free. If you are someone who struggles with depression and haven't been able to find an effective treatment, then it could be that TMS may be beneficial.

What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a promising non-pharmacologic treatment that uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells. This stimulation of nerve cells shows encouraging results in being effective at treating many mental health disorders.

Typically, TMS uses repetitive electromagnetic pulses. Therefore people may know it as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). TMS and rTMS treatments are not different, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.

How Does TMS Work?

Why TMS works is actually not fully biologically understood. Medical professionals generally believe that electrical currents activate cells in the brain. These cells then release brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters.

Medical professionals consider that an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, is what causes depression. TMS may, therefore, restore a chemical balance of these neurotransmitters in the brains of those with depression.

What Happens During TMS Treatment?

A TMS technician or a TMS physician will carry out the procedure. It is often done on an outpatient basis at a medical clinic or hospital, meaning that you won't need to stay overnight. Similar to an MRI, you will need to remove any jewelry that might be sensitive to magnets.

TMS therapy is non-invasive, meaning that you won't need any anesthesia, unlike other similar therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Again, similarly to an MRI, you will have to wear earplugs during the procedure to protect your hearing from the sound of electromagnetic pulses that occur during treatment.

A technician will fit a magnetic coil to your head depending on the area of your brain that is responsible for your mental health condition. Once these steps are complete, treatment will then proceed. You will experience the clicking sounds of the electromagnetic pulses and possibly a knocking sensation where the magnetic coil rests. The procedure will generally last between thirty to sixty minutes. After this, you will be able to resume usual activities immediately, such as driving home from the appointment or working.

Depending on how responsive you are to treatment, the length of treatment can vary. You can, however, generally expect to take part in the therapy for four to six weeks, five days a week.

What Can TMS Therapy Treat?

rTMS treatment has proven to be somewhat effective, at different levels, for the following mental health conditions:

  • Major depression and other mood disorders - including major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety disorders - such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenia

TMS for Postpartum Depression

New mothers are at risk of developing postpartum depression (PPD), or 'baby blues'. Postpartum depression is a form of depression that can occur in new mothers soon after giving birth. Along with the jumble of emotions that they might feel at the time, it is understandable that postpartum depression can happen. Some postpartum women experiencing baby blues may develop severe and persistent postpartum depression, for which treatment is available.

When it comes to treating postpartum depression, women who experience postpartum depression may not want to use a first-line treatment such as traditional antidepressants. This is because there is a worry that antidepressant medication may be detrimental to their baby's health through breastfeeding. Therefore, new mothers may prefer other non-invasive and non-medicinal forms of treating postpartum depression.

This is why TMS could be very effective in treating postpartum depression.

Is TMS Treatment Effective for Postpartum Depression?

Previous studies looking at TMS treatment for postpartum depression show promising results.

One study in 2009 involved giving twenty rTMS treatments to nine antidepressant-free women with postpartum depression. Researchers carried out these sessions over a four-week period. The treatment focused on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and its effects were assessed at thirty days, three months, and six-month periods. Their symptoms were assessed using various depression scales and scores, including the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

All nine women took part in all TMS treatment sessions. What they found is that by the end of week two of treatment, eight patients experienced a significant improvement in their depressive symptoms to the point that they achieved remission. At the six-month follow-up, of the eight women who experienced an improvement, seven of the sample achieved remission. This suggests that TMS treatment could be effective at increasing postpartum depression remission rates.

Common Questions About TMS Therapy

How Long Does TMS Work for Depression?

Like many mood disorder treatments, there is a high recurrence rate. TMS does not necessarily cure depression forever, although some people may experience a permanent improvement. Many recipients of the therapy experience an improvement in symptoms for many months on end. This can be seen in the individuals in the study above, where seven out of nine of the patients experienced remission for at least six months.

Can TMS Damage Your Brain?

It is understandable that you could be worried that TMS treatment might damage your brain. However, there is currently no evidence of negative long-term issues after undergoing a course of TMS treatment. The only way that TMS could affect your brain is by relieving symptoms of depression, which could improve cognitive performance and cognitive functioning. There is also no evidence that TMS therapy causes brain tumors, memory loss, or problems with concentration. You can undergo treatment safely in the knowledge that TMS will not negatively affect your brain.

Can TMS Change Your Personality?

Many people who undergo TMS treatment worry that their personalities will change. This is understandable because of the way that TMS interacts with the brain. Like all antidepressant medications and treatments, TMS will not change an individual's personality, either temporarily or permanently.

Getting Treatment

Are you struggling with major depressive disorder? Or maybe postpartum depression? Or are you experiencing treatment-resistant depression? There are always more options available to combat your mental health condition.

At GIA Miami, we offer specialized TMS therapy in order to treat depression and other mental health conditions. We can also offer other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and talk therapy alongside TMS to make sure your treatment is effective and meets your needs.

If you choose to undergo treatment with us, you can expect the most advanced, up-to-date, and evidence-based approaches that are tailored to suit your needs. Whether you are suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or something else, we can offer effective treatment. We deliver our TMS therapy on an outpatient basis, meaning you are able to fulfill your day-to-day responsibilities while undergoing discrete treatment. You no longer have to suffer in silence.

Call us now, at 561 462 4099, or contact us here if you are ready to start your journey to wellness today.

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