What Is TMS Therapy?

What Is TMS Therapy?

Author: GIA Miami
Published: June 24, 2020

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy is an innovative mental wellness treatment technology that uses gentle magnetic waves to stimulate nerve cells in certain areas of the brain. It is a painless and non-invasive procedure that does not require any break in the skin.

Mental health experts have known for years that to be successful treatment must involve a wide range of techniques. Just as there are multiple approaches to treating conditions like, say, high blood pressure — medication, changes to diet and lifestyle, and so on — so must the diseases of depression, anxiety, and addiction be approached in a broad range of ways. At GIA, one of the methods that we have pioneered is a technique called “transcranial magnetic stimulation” or “TMS” therapy. And we have discovered that TMS therapy can be a powerful weapon in the war against mental illness, primarily when it is used in conjunction with other treatment modalities.

The FDA approved TMS as a safe and effective treatment for major depressive disorder in 2008. Since then, medics have used to it treat a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety and substance use disorders.

TMS has high success rates - up to 62.5% of people achieve complete remission from major depression after a typical course of TMS. It can be effective for clients who are resistant to other treatments, like antidepressant medication or talk therapy. For many people, TMS is the treatment that turns their life around.

Learn more about TMS therapy today at GIA Miami by reaching out to us online or calling 833.713.0797.

What Is TMS Therapy?

TMS therapy is a new way of treating mood disorders like depression, anxiety disorders like PTSD, and substance use disorders. The founder of the Global Institutes on Addictions, Dr. Antonello Bonci, has been working with a team of international colleagues for years to bring TMS into the mainstream as a treatment for mental illness and addiction. And his work has been met with much acclaim.

The process itself is neither invasive nor painful. A member of Dr. Bonci’s team places a magnetic coil to the head of the patient, targeting a particular group of cells in the brain with a magnetic field. This stimulates the cells in that area, affecting mood and behavior in positive, measurable ways. And each session of TMS therapy usually involves no more than 15 minutes of stimulation.

TMS therapy has a proven track record when it comes to treating these conditions. Originally developed as a method of treating medication-resistant depression, the medical community has embraced TMS therapy with open arms. And when it comes to addiction, TMS therapy works on two levels. On the one hand, the kinds of mood and anxiety disorders listed above are often co-occurring with addiction. That is to say, many people with substance use issues also suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions that underpin and fuel their addiction, creating a cycle of addiction. Second, Dr. Bonci and the GIA Miami team are also exploring the ways TMS therapy can be used to treat addictive behaviors directly. And these treatments have proven to be very effective indeed.

TMS Therapy at GIA Miami

Simply put, the TMS therapy program developed and led by Dr. Bonci at GIA is widely regarded as the best mental health and addiction treatment facility in the world for TMS therapy. Research in a wide variety of neuroscience journals, much of which has been led directly by Dr. Bonci, has demonstrated that TMS therapy is an incredibly useful tool in the battle against substance use disorders. Additionally, non-profit organizations like the Addiction Policy Forum have been hopeful about the implications of TMS therapy’s use to treat addiction successfully.

Every individual struggling with mental health problems is different. And this means that TMS therapy is not the right course of treatment for everyone. But if you or someone you care about has tried other treatment methods and they have not been successful, GIA Miami’s TMS therapy program might be right for you.

How Does TMS Work?

People living with mental health conditions often have certain areas of the brain that are more or less active than usual. These brain areas are responsible for mood regulation and other important functions.

TMS treatment stimulates nerve cells in these areas to increase or decrease brain activity. This can have a pronounced effect on mood and behavior, improving symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions.

What Is Repetitive TMS (rTMS)?

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) passes multiple magnetic pulses over the brain, usually over a number of sessions. Almost all TMS treatment programs use rTMS - many people use the terms interchangeably.

Research has shown that TMS is usually most effective if you receive multiple sessions with some time between each session. A typical course of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment involves daily rTMS treatment sessions up to an hour in duration and lasts four to six weeks.

What Is Deep TMS (dTMS)?

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation is a kind of TMS therapy that uses special combinations of coils to send magnetic pulses that directly deeper brain regions. Pulses from deep TMS can reach at least 4cm beneath the skull to stimulate areas of the brain involved in a wider range of mental health disorders.

By directly reaching deeper areas of the brain, dTMS avoids the need to increase the strength of the magnetic field to stimulate the brain cells. This helps keep side effects and discomfort to a minimum.

Are There Any Side-Effects of TMS?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy has very few side effects. The most common side effects are a mild headache and scalp discomfort close to the site of the treatment. These side-effects quickly fade after each treatment session and usually become less pronounced as the client progresses through the treatment procedure.

Because TMS is a painless and non-invasive procedure, it does not require anesthesia. Clients can drive to and from sessions and resume normal activities immediately afterward.

What Are Brain Stimulation Therapies?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is a type of brain stimulation therapy. Brain stimulation therapies involve activating areas of the brain with electricity. They can contribute to the treatment of many mental disorders and medical conditions.

Brain stimulation therapies can be invasive or noninvasive. Invasive therapies usually involve some kind of metal implants and require sedation. Noninvasive therapies avoid piercing the skin of the scalp - TMS therapy has a noninvasive form.

Some examples of brain stimulation therapies include:

  • vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
  • electroconvulsive therapy
  • magnetic seizure therapy (MST)
  • deep brain stimulation (DBS)

What Happens in a TMS Session?

The Mapping Session

Your first TMS session will usually be a mapping session where your TMS physician locates the TMS targets in your brain. Once they have located the brain area, they may mark it on a white cap on your head so they can instantly locate the spot in future sessions.

What Are They Looking For?

In the mapping session, the TMS physician needs to locate your dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), an area responsible for emotional responses in the brain. In order to find it, they must first locate your primary motor cortex, a group of neurotransmitters in the center-top part of the brain that control muscle contraction. When they send a short magnetic pulse that reaches this area, the client's right hand will twitch.

How Do They Find It?

The physician places a helmet containing an electromagnetic coil over the head of the client. They send single short electromagnetic pulses until they notice a twitch of the right hand. The client may experience a tapping sensation with each pulse.

Read more: Anxiety Treatment Miami

What Is Your Motor Threshold?

Your motor threshold is the minimum intensity of magnetic pulse needed to produce a motor response in your right hand. After locating the primary motor cortex, your TMS technician will gradually decrease the intensity of the pulse to determine the minimum threshold.

What Conditions Can TMS Treat?

In 2008, the FDA approved repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation as a safe and effective therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Since then, scientists have developed different kinds of deep TMS therapy to improve symptoms for a wide range of mental disorders.

In the European Economic Area, various versions of Deep TMS H-coils are now licensed to treat Alzheimer's disease, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tms for schizophrenia, and nicotine addiction.

Major Depression

Research has found transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy to be hugely successful in improving depression symptoms, even in people resistant to other depression treatments. Studies have found that over half of people with depression benefit from TMS therapy.

TMS also has fewer side effects than most antidepressant medications, which may lead to weight gain and changes in mood.

Anxiety Disorders

Transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown promising results in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), general anxiety disorder (GAD), and PTSD. In 2021 the FDA approved TMS for the treatment of anxiety symptoms in clients living with depression.

Substance and Behavioral Addictions

Pioneering research has uncovered the effectiveness of TMS as a treatment for substance use disorders and behavioral addictions. Numerous studies have shown that TMS can reduce consumption of and cravings for substances, and reduce engagement in addictive behaviors.

Read more: What is the cost of TMS Therapy?

Contact GIA Miami Today

Mental health disorders impact people at many levels. Combined with addiction, it is socially and psychologically isolating and can ruin those who struggle with it financially, can break family bonds, and destroy their health. But most of the millions of individuals struggling with addiction in the U.S. alone will not get the help they need. This is in large part because of the difficulty of taking that first step: admitting that you have a problem and are struggling and finding someone to help.

Read more: Success rate of TMS Therapy

When mental health treatment centers like GIA are offering groundbreaking, cutting-edge treatments like TMS therapy, there is no better time to make that decision. Let our admissions team and our compassionate, expert medical staff customize a treatment plan for you today. And many of our programs are also available remotely as a part of our extensive telehealth network. Reach out to GIA Miami today online or by calling 833.713.0797. You will be glad that you did.

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