How TMS Can Ease Symptoms of Depression, Parkinson’s, and Dementia

It sounds cheesy, but it’s true — your brain is a very advanced computer. There are differences, of course, like the fact that computers don’t experience emotion and that your brain can’t add memory chips, but there are many similarities. Your brain displays its computing power every day, using logic and calculations to evaluate situations and make decisions. Both also run on electrical signals.

Much like a computer, your brain and nervous system sometimes stop functioning properly. Conditions such as depression, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, although different in cause and symptoms, are related in the fact that certain parts of the brain are experiencing some electrical failures.

Scientists have seen improved function in these patients when sending a small, targeted magnetic current to certain parts of the brain. This process is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and we offer it at Jacinto Medical Group. With a psychiatrist, neurologists, and primary care doctors on staff, we provide expert treatment for disorders and illnesses that involve the brain.

What is TMS?

It can sometimes be a little scary to think about the ways doctors operate on and treat the brain. Between patients who are awake during brain surgery and treatments like electroshock therapy, which uses mini-seizures to treat depression and dementia symptoms, something with a name like transcranial magnetic stimulation can seem intimidating.

However, TMS is noninvasive and mostly pain-free. During TMS, you relax under a specialized machine with an electromagnet that painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse to stimulate nerve cells in the region of your brain that controls the targeted functions.

Each treatment takes less than one hour. Although there isn’t a fully formed explanation for why TMS is effective, most doctors believe the stimulation provided by the magnetic pulse impacts brain function in a positive way.

You can receive this treatment up to four or five times a week. Best of all, the worst TMS symptoms most patients face are slight scalp pain, headaches, and lightheadedness — all temporary. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever before or after the TMS session if necessary.

TMS eases depression

TMS therapy has been developed as a way to treat depression, especially in patients for whom antidepressants and psychotherapy haven’t provided adequate relief. TMS has been shown to improve symptoms in those with treatment-resistant depression and has helped chronic depression sufferers as well.

Most people associate depression with an imbalance of key neurotransmitter chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Antidepressant medications successfully restore the balance of these chemicals in many patients, but not everyone. Decreased brain activity in areas like the hippocampus is also a hallmark of depression.

With TMS treatment, the magnetic pulses target the area of the brain experiencing decreased activity. The current is meant to stimulate nerve cells to increase activity — similar to jump-starting a car when the battery is depleted.

TMS for Parkinson’s disease and dementia

Jacinto Medical Group also has had some success in using TMS to address conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia. Studies have shown these off-label uses can help improve certain brain functions when combined with other therapies.

For example, a study on patients with Parkinson’s disease found that TMS, when combined with aerobic exercise, could help increase motor function. In Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients, TMS and cognitive training has led to an increase in cognitive function, which is your ability to form and store knowledge.

If you or a loved one is suffering with the effects of depression, Parkinson’s disease, or dementia, visit the caring team at Jacinto Medical Group. We work with you to determine if TMS can alleviate or improve symptoms. Contact one of our four Houston-area offices by phone or online today.

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