The Science Behind TMS Therapy

Nov 02, 2023
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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an up-and-coming treatment that helps people with treatment-resistant depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Read on to discover how TMS therapy works on the brain to relieve mental health symptoms.

Depression is a debilitating mental health problem that affects millions of people worldwide and sometimes has profound, lasting effects on your life.

Medications and therapy are successful treatments for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but they don't work for everyone. However, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is another option for living with depression or OCD.

TMS is one of the many treatments the team at Pacific Phoenix TMS offers at their two practices in Salmon Creek and East Vancouver, Washington.

Dr. Elia R. Gonzalez-Rodriguez and Dr. Vaishali Shah are our board-certified psychiatrists specializing in TMS therapy for treatment-resistant depression.

What is TMS therapy?

Transmagnetic stimulation therapy is a non-invasive treatment for treatment-resistant mental health disorders like major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The treatment utilizes a magnetic coil to influence the brain's electrical activity, improving mood and symptoms.

Your brain's neurons use electrical activity to communicate with one another. Electrical activity is essential for the brain to regulate emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

When you're living with OCD or depression, the electrical activity in some areas of the brain is slowed, which results in negative emotions and trouble with cognitive processing.

Typically, medications and psychotherapy help people with OCD or depression restore positive emotions by controlling certain neurotransmitters.

However, if medications and therapy aren't controlling your symptoms and you're living with treatment-resistant depression or OCD, TMS therapy is a great nonsurgical option for long-term relief.

The science behind the treatment

TMS is an intriguing treatment, but how does it work? It isn’t highly complex, but TMS is a fascinating insight into the intricate workings of the brain, especially in people with mental health problems.

During a TMS session, we place an electromagnetic coil on your head. During a session, the coil sends into the brain a pulse that isn’t painful but works to stimulate the underacting nerve cells in areas of the brain that control mood.

In depression, for example, the hippocampus suffers decreased electrical activity, leading to reduced neurotransmitters like serotonin. The low volume of neurotransmitters leads to the symptoms of depression.

TMS works by sending an electromagnetic pulse to specific areas of the brain, which stimulates the electrical activity between neurons, essentially increasing essential neurotransmitters that are necessary for an improvement in mood.

The science behind TMS lies in the magnetic and electrical activity in the brain. The magnet is powerful, creating a magnetic field around the patient.

The magnetic field interacts with the brain's electrical activity, increasing the tiny electrical impulses between neurons to improve symptoms and mood.

What to expect during TMS therapy

A TMS therapy session is effortless and noninvasive. We bring you into the treatment room and have you sit in a comfortable chair.

We then measure your head to determine where to place the electromagnetic coil for optimal treatment outcomes. You'll need earplugs to drown out the magnet's clicking or knocking sounds.

The treatment begins after we place the coil and ensure you're comfortable. You may feel a knocking or clicking sensation under the coil as the magnet delivers pulses to the brain.

Each treatment may last up to 20 minutes, depending on your needs. Most must repeat treatment several times a week for about six weeks for optimal outcomes.

TMS therapy is exceptionally successful in treating various mental health issues, from depression to PTSD, along with OCD and anxiety.

Call one of our conveniently located offices in Salmon Creek or East Vancouver, Washington, today to schedule an appointment for TMS therapy, or request an appointment  on the website.