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How Can TMS Treatments Support Mental Health?

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

In the world of mental health therapies, one of the most cutting-edge treatments is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS. At its core, TMS therapy is a technique that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain of those who are living with depression, OCD, or anxiety. This non-invasive treatment is normally considered in concert with a mental health counselor, and usually only after other treatment interventions such as medicine or talk therapy have proven ineffective.

To learn more about TMS and how exactly it’s used in mental health treatment, check out this guide from the experts at Lighthouse Psychiatry.

What is TMS?

Relatively new in terms of the world of mental health treatments, TMS was first developed in 1985 by Anthony Barker and his colleagues. While knowledge of the physics behind TMS has existed since the late 1800s, it is only recently that the creation of magnetic fields has been used to treat mental health challenges. The foundational concept of TMS is that a magnetic coil is employed to influence the brain’s natural electrical activity by stimulating different nerve cells.

How Do TMS Treatments Work with the Brain?

The techniques used to employ TMS rely on two basic principles- those of electricity and magnetism. To understand the way TMS works, it’s useful to have a basic grasp of these two principles.

A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field immediately around itself. While you can’t see this magnetic field, the space around it still shows the impact of the magnet. If a magnet is brought near something that conducts electricity, the conductive item and magnetic field interact and generate electricity.

This foundational information is important because our brain is electrically active. Neurons and nerve cells in your brain employ tiny doses of electricity to send and receive messages and having a magnet close to your brain can impact this electricity. TMS is employed to target the areas of your brain that specifically influence feelings, emotions, moods, and internal decision-making.

Is there a Variety of TMS Treatments?

There are a few different variations of TMS treatments that medical professionals adjust to individualize therapies for those receiving them. Those include the following:

  • The strength of the magnet being used

  • The patterns of the magnetic pulses

  • The frequency of the pulses

  • The type of the magnetic coil and the stimulation target

If you’re interested in pursuing TMS as a treatment for your mental health, it’s extremely important to work with a mental health counselor to determine whether or not TMS is the right option for you. You will likely be asked to complete both a psychiatric evaluation as well as a physical evaluation before undergoing TMS treatment. If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to get in touch with our experienced mental health professionals at Lighthouse Psychiatry. We offer both advanced psychiatric services as well as counseling and coaching, and will work with you to develop a treatment plan to best support you on your journey towards a healthier life.

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