How Does TMS Therapy Work?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the area of the brain thought to control mood. It is sometimes referred to as rTMS which stands for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. TMS patients receiving TMS Therapy remain awake and alert during the procedure.
Through a magnetic coil, the MagVita TMS Therapy system generates highly concentrated, magnetic fields which turn on and off very rapidly. These magnetic fields are the same type and strength as those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.
Using pulsed magnetic fields, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy stimulates the part of the brain thought to be involved with mood regulation (the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). These magnetic fields do not directly affect the whole brain; they only reach about 2-3 centimeters into the brain directly beneath the treatment coil.
As these magnetic fields move into the brain, they produce very small electrical currents. These electrical currents activate cells within the brain, causing them to rewire, a process called neuroplasticity. In addition, TMS is thought to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Since depression is thought to be the result of an imbalance of these chemicals in the brain and incorrect pathways of brain networks, TMS can restore that balance and, thus, relieve depression.
TMS Therapy is a short outpatient procedure, performed in your psychiatrist’s office under his or her supervision while you remain awake and alert. The typical initial course of treatment is about 37 minutes daily over 4-6 weeks.