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TMS For Teenagers: Can TMS Be Used for Teen Depression?

TMS For Teenagers: Can TMS Be Used for Teen Depression?

Published: May 19, 2022

Teen depression is a serious and widespread condition. If untreated, it can seriously impact the well-being of teenagers and affect their prospects for the future.

TMS therapy is a safe and effective treatment for young people living with depression. It can be a lifeline for teenagers who do not respond to anti-depressants and seek an alternative treatment solution. It can also be an effective adjunctive treatment alongside medication or a desirable option for teenagers who want to avoid the systematic side effects that medication may cause.

What Is TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy (TMS) is an evidence-based treatment that uses gentle magnetic waves to stimulate brain cells, causing pronounced changes in mood and behavior. TMS is evidence-based, non-invasive, and painless with few side effects. Cleared by the FDA in 2008 as a safe and effective therapy for treatment-resistant depression, research has shown TMS to treat many other mental disorders effectively.

A typical course of TMS consists of four to six weeks of daily sessions, followed by a few weeks of tapering off sessions. Treatment sessions are usually between 20 and 40 minutes and are offered on an outpatient basis. Patients remain awake throughout the entire treatment and can communicate freely with their TMS physician. Clients can resume everyday activities immediately after treatment.

TMS is relatively painless with few side effects. The most common side effects are a temporary mild headache and scalp discomfort, which often decrease as treatment progresses. Unlike antidepressant medications, TMS does not come with any long-term systematic side effects such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction.

TMS for Teen Depression: Can TMS Be Used on Teenagers?

Depression can have a severe impact on a teenager's life. If left untreated, it may lead to substance abuse, poor performance at school, interpersonal difficulties, and physical health problems. In severe cases, depression can lead to suicide, the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents.

In this context, providing effective treatment for adolescents is hugely important. Clinical trials show that TMS is a safe and effective treatment for adolescent depression, including those resistant to other forms of treatment. TMS is generally well tolerated with few side effects and may be preferable to other forms of treatment like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that TMS for teen depression continue for six months to a year. Teenagers may benefit from participating in psychoeducational classes, talk therapy, and family therapy alongside TMS. Effective treatment programs usually involve regular clinical check-ups throughout the teenager's recovery journey.

When Could TMS Be Right for Your Child?

About half of people don't respond to antidepressant medications. Adolescents with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) may benefit from TMS treatment as a safe, effective treatment option with few side effects.

Clinical trials have also shown TMS to effectively treat depression symptoms in post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. If your child is living with either of these mental health conditions or other disorders, TMS may be for them.

There are some people for whom TMS is not a safe option - in particular, those who have metal implants or medical devices in their heads. It may also not be suitable for adolescents who take medications that increase the risk of seizures.

If you are considering TMS for your child, you should talk to your healthcare provider to determine if it is a safe and suitable treatment.

TMS For Teenagers: Common Questions

Here are a few common questions about TMS for teen depression. If you'd like more information, don't hesitate to contact us at GIA Miami to speak with our expert staff.

Can You Get TMS While on Antidepressants?

Yes - TMS may be a potentially effective adjunctive therapy for antidepressants. According to a 2020 study, attending TMS sessions on antidepressant medication could accelerate positive change in young clients with major depression.

While research is limited, as a noninvasive, nonpharmaceutical treatment, TMS is unlikely to interfere with antidepressant drugs. If you're thinking about supplementing your or your child's antidepressant treatment with TMS therapy, you should talk to your healthcare provider.

Read more: When does TMS start working?

Is TMS More Effective Than Antidepressants?

Studies estimate that around 40% to 60% of people taking antidepressants see improvements in depressive symptoms after six to eight weeks. In comparison, a literature review of transcranial magnetic stimulation found that response rates for TMS are around 50% to 55%.

While the two treatments have similar response rates, TMS is an effective therapy for treatment-resistant MDD who have not responded to antidepressants. Around 50% to 60% of clients who have not benefited from medication may see a clinically meaningful response with TMS. It may also be a more suitable treatment for clients who want to avoid or do not tolerate the systematic side effects of antidepressants, such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction.

Does TMS Work for Severe Depression?

TMS is an effective treatment for severe depression, including in young people. A clinical study investigated the effects of TMS in adolescents experiencing suicidal ideations. It found that high-frequency rTMS improved suicidal ideations and depressive symptoms and recommended that TMS therapy may be an effective intervention for suicide.

Suicide Prevention

If you are thinking about suicide or are worried about a child or a loved one, you can access free and confidential support on the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

What Causes Teen Depression?

There's no single cause of teen depression. However, several different risk factors can make a teenager's chance of developing depression. These include:

  • stressful events
  • genetics
  • personality characteristics such as low self-esteem
  • loneliness
  • family history
  • substance abuse

Remember that these risk factors do not necessarily lead to depression, and it is possible to develop depression without experiencing these risk factors.

Mental Health Services at GIA Miami

At GIA Miami, we offer evidence-based, expert-led mental health services from the forefront of medical science. Our treatment programs are founded on the most advanced and up-to-date research, supporting clients to reach long-lasting mental wellness.

Our clinical team contains world-leading experts in TMS therapy. Our founder, Dr. Bonci, has co-authored groundbreaking research on TMS treatments, particularly its use for substance and behavioral addictions. At GIA, you benefit directly from our team's exceptional experience and expertise through our individualized treatment packages.

We work together to provide each client with a holistic healing experience catered to their needs. Our comprehensive treatment programs combine a variety of treatment options, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy
  • TMS therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Couples therapy

Our specialist treatment facilities host all the state-of-the-art equipment needed to support our programs. The space is modern and open, offering a calm and peaceful environment to relax before, during, and after treatment. Conveniently located in downtown Miami, our center is easily accessible by car and provides on-site parking.

Read more: TMS for teens and kids - can it help?

Contact Us Today

If your child is living with depression, experiencing depression symptoms, or struggling with other mental health issues, contact us today for a free consultation. We're here to help clients of all ages and backgrounds to heal, grow, and become the best version of themselves.

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