TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an innovative therapy to deal with the symptoms of severe depression. It is a method of sending stimulating electric charges to a specific part of the brain in order to rejuvenate the nerve cells of that particular region, to bring some changes in the functioning of those dormant nerves. This is a new method of treating mental depression and has proved to be much less hazardous than Electroconvulsive therapy. This therapy is generally carried out on a patient who exhibits symptoms of severe mental depression, after the patient has stopped responding to all other forms of treatments. But it also helps to alleviate and improve symptoms of other neurological and psychiatric problems like strokes, migraines, the symptoms of depression and in this case, the treatment shows more favorable result.
Depression is a form of psychiatric problem that needs immediate medical attention. If it is not treated at the initial stage, then it might, over the period, manifest itself in the form of a major psychological problem. The treatment of depression is possible to be carried out by other antidepressant therapies and medication, but their long- term use produces various harmful side effects like- weight gain, memory loss, seizure etc. This kind of side effects and health risks can be done away with by opting for TMS.
This therapy is noninvasive, as it does not require the therapist to anaesthetize the patient, who remains conscious and in his full senses while undergoing it. It also has no need for sedation which makes it easier for the therapist to perform it. It can be easily done at the doctor's chamber with the help of the machinery that provides this therapy. In this therapy, the therapist places a magnetic coil on the patient's scalp, which directly co-relates to that part of our brain by which our mood swings are controlled. The coil facilitates the induction of the weak electric currents by utilizing changing magnetic field to the affected part of the brain. These electric waves act as a strong nudge to the inactive nerve cells which are responsible for creating the mental inertia. They affect those nerves in a particular way so as to make them wake up from their lull and become active, in order to bring change in the patient's mental set up and behavior. Unlike ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) and antidepressant medication which affects the whole of the brain and can produce some unwanted side effects, this provides a very localized treatment facility, through which only the part of the brain that causes mood change can be taken care of, leaving the rest of the brain out of this treatment.
The patients need not to go through long sessions of this therapy. They generally last 45 minutes and are scheduled five days a week for four to six weeks. Being a brand new treatment facility, all of its side effects are still not known. The ones that have been reported include-
1. Pain in the scalp where the coil is placed
4. Tingling of facial and cranial nerves.
In rarest cases the side effects have been-
2. Heightened mania in bipolar disorder patients
3. Hearing impairment if ears not properly covered while beginning the treatment, as the coil produces loud clicking noise
4. Sometimes the coil might get overheated; in that case it can cause skin
Before opting for this treatment the patient should inform the therapist about any special physiological condition that he might have, because it is not suitable for the patients who is-
1. Pregnant or planning to conceive
2. Has some medical device already placed in his body like pace-maker
3. On some kind of medication and regularly uses vitamins. It would be also wise to inform the doctor if the patient has any previous history of mania, seizure and surgery.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is the newest addition to the list of therapies which has immense potential in ameliorating the symptoms of depression and other forms of neurosis. But since it is very new, so its process is still being monitored, examined and scrutinized by the doctors to ensure if it also produces any long-term harmful side effects.