Those suffering from depression, nicotine addiction, or both, know how difficult it can be to control the symptoms that the brain creates. Both of these conditions can be difficult to overcome, and some people may try multiple treatment options without success. Throughout history, human beings have come to better understand the inner workings of the brain. While medical practitioners do not yet know everything, they have come a significant way. Not only are we able to understand the way some of the mechanisms of the brain function, we also have the ability to manipulate this activity on some level. The advent of the transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device is a brain manipulating technology that has been able help alleviate depression symptoms, as well as aid in the smoking cessation process.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is the act of manipulating brain cell activity with electromagnetic pulses. There are two versions of the transcranial magnetic stimulation device, one which is stationary and the other portable. Regardless of the type of device, a coil is placed on the patient’s scalp and an electric current is sent to areas of the brain thought to be linked to specific behaviors. While the thought of electricity passing through one’s brain may be uncomfortable, the doctors at John Hopkins assure that they are of similar intensity to the ones produced during a standard MRI scan. This device is primarily used to alleviate the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, meaning people have not responded to any other form of treatment. However, use has been expanded to include the management of other conditions, such as nicotine addiction. When more than one pulse is delivered in rapid succession, it is known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS),
In terms of components, the stationary TMS machine includes:
- The Link – Regulates the coils and ensures the entire system is operating correctly
- Electromyogram Equipment – Helps determine correct TMS dose
- Stimulation Coil – Emits electromagnetic pulse
- Coil Positioning System – Ensures coil coordinates are correct
- The Database – Keeps track of patient data
The portable transcranial magnetic stimulation device includes:
- A power supply unit
- Energy supply storage – Helps device maintain charge
- Charge recovery unit – Converts energy in the coil back to energy supply power
- Control unit
- Stimulation coil – Delivers electromagnetic pulse
TMS for Depression
Some people who have depression may find that no other treatments work to help manage symptoms. Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been shown to help these individuals in a way that the failed treatments could not. In a study, 301 people with treatment-resistant depression were administered daily TMS or a sham treatment for six weeks. Afterwards, patients were weaned off of TMS for three weeks; 85% of the 142 people who received active TMS remained depression-free after this phase of research was complete, says PsychCentral. Of these people, 99 agreed to 24 weeks of follow up assessments, and only 10 of them relapsed after this period.
TMS for Smoking Cessation
In a study conducted to test the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for lessening nicotine dependence, 74 smokers were recruited and given either sham or active rTMS.; patients received a total of four rTMS treatments. After three months, 29 people remained in the active rTMS group, and there were 24 in the placebo group, dropping to 19 and 11 after 12 months, respectively. At the three-month mark, those in the active rTMS group showed a smoking abstinence rate of 50%, which dropped to slightly more than 20% after one year, says Medscape.
What is Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (deep TMS) is the successor of TMS. It utilizes the same concept of brain stimulation via electromagnetic pulses, but the coils used are somewhat different. It is called deep TMS because the pulses can stimulate areas deeper in the brain than the transcranial magnetic stimulation device. It has been tested as a treatment for depression, with a 29% remission rate on average, says The National Center for Biotechnological Innovation. Additionally, a study using dTMS as a smoking cessation method indicated that, of those who received high frequency dTMS for 13 consecutive days, there was a 33% abstinence rate six months after the study ended.
The transcranial magnetic stimulation device is used to help people who are dealing with difficult illnesses like treatment-resistant depression and nicotine dependence. By targeting areas of the brain thought to be involved in producing the symptoms of these conditions, practitioners are able to regulate brain cell activity with electromagnetic pulses. Of course, no procedure is ever one size fits all, though people who believe they may benefit from TMS should contact a professional to inquire further.
Westside Neurotherapeutics offers dTMS treatments Los Angeles for depression and smoking cessation. For more information, contact them by phone at 310.946.0008 or visit us online at www.westsideneurotherapeutics.com.