How Does It Work?
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS)
What is is Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS)?
dTMS uses an electromagnet, similar to what is used in an MRI scanner, to provide a medication-free, non-invasive treatment for depression and other brain disorders.
The magnet is gently placed against the scalp and targets the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is involved with mood regulation. This part of the brain is less active due to depression. As this magnetic field travels into the brain, it produces very small electrical currents activating neurons within the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine—the same neurotransmitters that are provided artificially through antidepressant medications. dTMS is able to provide these neurotransmitters directly to the brain, essentially solving the problem at the source with zero systemic side effects.
Currently, FDA has approved dTMS only for the treatment of major depression that has failed to benefit from medication and psychotherapy in adults. However, dTMS has been used in studies and to “off-label” treat many other conditions including generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, autism, body dysmorphic disorder, addictive disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, auditory hallucinations and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition, dTMS has been used for the treatment of a number of neurologic disorders including migraine, chronic neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue from multiple sclerosis, and even assessments of the integrity of corticospinal tract of the spine.
The first session may take up to one hour as the doctor obtains measurements that will be used throughout the course of treatment. Subsequent sessions last about 20 minutes and are administered by a trained dTMS technician. Of note, dTMS sessions are usually much shorter than conventional rTMS. After each session is complete, you can return to your normal activities and do not need to be accompanied by anyone to leave the office or to drive. Treatments are typically administered 5 days a week for 4 to 6 weeks, but this can vary depending on the situation.
dTMS therapy was tested in patients who did not respond to at least one antidepressant and was determined effective even for patients who failed to benefit from several previous antidepressant medications. Furthermore, dTMS therapy restores the neuroplasticity to the parts of the brain that many brain disorders, such as depression, destroy over time. When the brain’s neural synapses and pathways regain normal function, depression is cured.