Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive treatment of depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD. It is also actively being researched in other areas such as Alzheimer’s and Acquired brain injury. It consists of applying an electromagnetic pulsing field to a specific area of the brain, every day, over a few weeks. For more information on how it works, see this article on Transcranial Magnetic Therapy. Here are 5 benefits of rTMS:
1-No sedation or anesthetic
Sometimes undergoing a procedure that involves sedation or anaesthesia can be a health risk, and even cause a lot of fear and anxiety. Sedation and anaesthesia can have a lot of negative side effects, like vomiting, confusion, cognitive dysfunction and delirium. Unlike electroconvulsive therapy, rTMS doesn’t require sedation or anaesthesia, which minimizes a lot of the risks.
2- Few side effects
rTMS has shown very few negative side effects or safety risks. Only 10-30% of patients experience some discomfort such as headaches. However, there is a very small risk (less than 1:10,000) that rTMS can cause a seizure. So, proper screening should be done before receiving rTMS.
3- Quick onset
In a clinical setting, 75% of patients will achieve a response, which is defined as a drop in depressive symptoms by half. And 50% who will achieve remission which is defined as having only one or two mild symptoms left, at most, with 30 treatments or more. Unlike some medications that take weeks of adjustments in dosage, rTMS patients may see improvements within the first week or two of treatments.
4- No recovery period
Since rTMS doesn’t require sedation or anesthetic, there is virtually no need for a recovery period after a session.
5- Cognitive improvements
Oftentimes depression causes cognitive impairments and patients see an increase in cognitive functioning. Research has shown that high-frequency rTMS improves attention, memory, and executive functioning such as decision making and reasoning.
- Anderson, B., Mishory, A., Nahas, Z., Borckardt, J. J., Yamanaka, K., Rastogi, K., & George, M. S. (2006). Tolerability and safety of high daily doses of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in healthy young men. The Journal of ECT, 22(1), 49-53.
- Garcia-Toro, M., Salva, J., Daumal, J., Andres, J., Romera, M., Lafau, O., . . . Aguirre, I. (2006). High (20-hz) and low (1-hz) frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation as adjuvant treatment in medication-resistant depression.Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 146(1), 53-57. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.librweb.laurentian.ca/docview/621923560?accountid=12005
- Tringali, S., Perrot, X., Collet, L., & Moulin, A. (2012). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: Hearing safety considerations. Brain Stimulation, 5(3), 354-363.
- Nadeau, S. E., Bowers, D., Jones, T. L., Wu, S. S., Triggs, W. J., & Heilman, K. M. (2014). Cognitive effects of treatment of depression with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 27(2), 77-87.
- Wölwer, W., Lowe, A., Brinkmeyer, J., Streit, M., Habakuck, M., Agelink, M. W., . . . Cordes, J. (2014). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) improves facial affect recognition in schizophrenia. Brain Stimulation, 7(4), 559-563.