How Does TMS for Depression Work? Can TMS Lift the Black Cloud of Depression?

How does TMS work on the prefrontal cortex to relieve depressive symptoms?

What are some hidden depression symptoms to look out for?

“I’m depressed, and I don’t know why.” “I feel so lonely Nobody gets me.” Have you had thoughts like this?

When you feel like your family and friends do not understand your feelings, you learn how to hide depression. Yet, hidden depression, or masked depression, does not go away by ignoring it.

What led to your depression in the first place? Was it the mental load of motherhood? Living with a depressed spouse? Or the pain of being a young adult, where you may think: “no one notices me” or “I feel so lonely nobody gets me” or “no one knows the real me.”

Unmasking hidden sadness requires therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist, where they may administer a concealed depression test, or arrive at a diagnosis through listening carefully to your account. They listen for clues, such as overeating and depression, under-eating, lack of energy, lack of emotion or not caring about possessions or activities that were once joyful.

If you are seeing a psychiatrist, they will likely prescribe antidepressant medication that you must take every day. After several weeks, if the medication works, you will notice some improvement.

What happens when antidepressants do not work?

Have you heard of TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation? Does TMS therapy work? Would a series of TMS treatments make a good gift for a depressed friend or loved one who is not responding to any other therapy?

First, let us discuss what is TMS for depression and how does TMS work for depression. TMS doctors use specially designed TMS machines that are able to generate a magnetic field very close to the patient’s head. Regarding TMS vs ECT, transcranial magnetic stimulation is safer and better tolerated, with less long-term adverse reactions compared to the older electroconvulsive therapy.

Through magnetic induction, a current is generated about an inch into the brain, in the prefrontal region. The specific region that is targeted is the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). This region is responsible for mood regulation.

With repeated treatments, the black cloud of depression gradually lifts. You go from feeling that no one feels your pain, to having the emotional pain of depressive symptoms relieved.

Before getting started, the TMS technician will calibrate the machine to the patient by focusing on the motor region of the brain first. You may notice your thumb twitching or an index finger twitching. This is how they determine the ideal positioning to reach the DLPFC region on the left side.

Does TMS increase dopamine? Does TMS increase serotonin?

Experts believe that magnetic stimulation therapy stimulates the release of neurotransmitters. By generating a current in the prefrontal cortex, electrical activity is increased, and chemical activity increases as well.

Of course, traditional antidepressants also increase the availability of specific neurotransmitters. For example, an SSRI, such as Prozac, blocks reuptake of serotonin, making more serotonin available at the synapses between neurons.

How is it that TMS provides long-lasting relief, where antidepressant tablets must be taken every day? Many TMS patients note that their depression is still relieved a full year after their last session.

The exact mechanism for long-term improvement is not fully understood. It seems that TMS provides a jump-start, or a reboot to the mood center of the prefrontal cortex, leaving the patient in a state of improvement for an extended period of time, without the need for further TMS sessions.

In addition to dopamine and serotonin, this safe, magnet-based procedure also stimulates the release of other neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine and epinephrine are examples of other neurotransmitters affected by TMS.

What is the TMS therapy success rate?

Not everyone will respond to TMS. The success rate is around 60-70%, which is quite high for depression therapy. For patients with treatment-resistant depression who do not respond to TMS, they may be interested in trying ketamine IV infusion therapy, which also works well for depression.

In fact, it is possible to combine TMS and ketamine therapy. The combination may help patients who do not achieve adequate relief with TMS alone.

An additional benefit of combination TMS and ketamine is that ketamine infusions provide faster relief. The depressed patient will experience a faster reduction of depressive symptoms during combination therapy.

Our ketamine and TMS center offers the best TMS for depression Maryland has to offer. We invite patients to visit our treatment center in Annapolis, Maryland to get started with TMS, or combined TMS and ketamine infusion, for the treatment of depression.

Whether you are dealing with concealed depression, depression overeating, or fatigue, lack of energy, and lack of motivation, TMS may be the answer to changing your outlook on life with minimal concern for side effects. TMS is an FDA-approved therapy that is covered by insurance, and it works well for many people who have not found relief with traditional antidepressant medications.

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