Using TMS to Treat Anxiety and Depression

You or someone you know have likely experienced depression or anxiety at some point. If that’s true, you probably know the symptoms and the immense effect they can have on your life. What you might not know is that sometimes traditional medications aren’t effective for treating these disorders.

In the last decade, more psychologists have begun moving away from traditional treatments for depression and anxiety. Instead, they’ve begun treating patients with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) found a ~40% to 55% response and ~25% to 35% remission rate for people with treatment-resistant depression.

Depressive Disorders

Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s ability to live a normal life. People with depression don’t just experience mental distress; they’ll often experience physical symptoms as well. Some symptoms of depression include: 

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness

  • Irritability

  • Anxiety

  • Low energy

  • Constantly feeling tired

  • Headaches

  • Digestive problems

The most common method of treating depression is with antidepressants, which work to alter a person’s brain chemistry. Unfortunately, antidepressants aren’t an effective treatment for every patient. 

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are caused by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that persists in every area of a person’s life. Anxiety may be caused by environmental factors, genetics, medications, and brain chemistry. Some of the symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Excessive fear and worry

  • Restlessness

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Inability to sleep

  • Muscle tension

Traditionally, patients with anxiety are prescribed antidepressants or go through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, these aren’t always effective long-term solutions. Similar to depression, some people are resistant to these treatments.

Using Antidepressants

Depression and anxiety can both be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Antidepressants attempt to correct these imbalances. Typically, antidepressants have serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs try to improve communication in the brain by normalizing your brain chemistry. For some people, changes in brain chemistry don’t have the effect of fully treating the imbalances.  

According to a study on Functional Recovery in Major Depressive Disorder by Habert et. al (2016), “less than half of those treated for [Major Depressive Disorders] with antidepressant drugs achieve remission.”

What is TMS Treatment?

TMS is a completely non-invasive treatment for depression and anxiety. Certain parts of the brain, like the prefrontal cortex, are less active in people with depression. Essentially, TMS relies on a series of magnetic pulses to stimulate these areas of the brain. Similar to antidepressants, TMS attempts to improve brain activity. The only difference is that TMS does this by creating a magnetic field. 

TMS has very few side effects and doesn’t require any extensive hospital visits or medical procedures. Treatment is quick and easy, and you can drive yourself home right after a session. 

Is TMS an Effective Treatment?

TMS has recently become a more common treatment for major depression disorders, treatment-resistant depression, and treatment-resistant anxiety. TMS is a much less invasive treatment option than electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It has been found to have fewer side effects and doesn’t require any hospital visits. 

Since 2010, the American Psychiatric Association has recommended TMS treatment for people who haven’t benefited from traditional antidepressant treatment. According to Psychiatric News, clinical trials have found that “TMS quadrupled the odds of remission after six weeks when compared with a sham procedure.” 

If you want to learn more about TMS treatment and how it can help with your depression and anxiety, visit our recent article: Everything You Need to Know About TMS Treatment for Depression.

Your mental health matters to us. If you’re looking for safe, reliable TMS treatment in Edmonton, come to Envision Mind Care. Our psychologists will carefully assess your unique needs and create a treatment plan that can help you feel your best. Book your first appointment to get started.