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Brain stimulation therapy is a type of mental health treatment. It’s designed to improve conditions that won’t respond to traditional treatment, like talk therapy. The most common brain stimulation therapies are electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy. 

ECT aims to stimulate seizures in the brain using electrical currents. TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate brain activity without causing seizures. It also requires no anesthesia and has minimal side effects. During a TMS session, a device is placed over the head. This device sends magnetic pulses to the brain regions involved in mood regulation. 

Are you interested in learning more about TMS brain stimulation therapy? We’ll help you understand what conditions it treats and how it works for each condition.

What are brain stimulation therapies like TMS used to treat?

TMS is one type of brain stimulation therapy that can be used to treat several mental health conditions. The conditions that are FDA-cleared and treated by TMS are: 

  • Treatment-resistant depression — Treatment-resistant depression is depression that hasn’t responded to previous treatment attempts. It’s beneficial for people who haven’t responded to traditional treatment, like talk therapy and antidepressants. More specifically, depression becomes “treatment-resistant” when it doesn’t improve after two antidepressant trials. For people with treatment-resistant depression, brain stimulation therapies like TMS may be helpful. In 2008, the FDA cleared TMS to treat depression. Since then, it has improved the symptoms of patients all over the world. 
  • Anxious depression — Anxious depression is another condition that brain stimulation therapy can benefit. Anxious depression is a term used to refer to the subset of major depressive disorder (MDD) that presents significant anxiety symptoms. Brain stimulation therapies such as TMS aren’t used to treat anxiety alone. However, it can improve the symptoms of anxious depression or depression with anxious features. The FDA first cleared TMS to treat anxious depression in 2021. In the few years since TMS was cleared, it’s become a well-favored method for treating anxious depression.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder — OCD is a mental health condition characterized by “obsessions.” These obsessions are fueled by anxiety. They can lead to “compulsive” behaviors designed to ease anxious feelings. Brain stimulation therapies like TMS can be used to treat OCD. TMS was first approved in 2018 to treat OCD. It may be effective for those unresponsive to talk therapy and oral medication.

How does brain stimulation therapy help patients with these conditions?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy may improve treatment-resistant depression, anxious depression and OCD. One of the reasons why TMS is so effective for depression is because it targets a specific part of the brain that involves mood regulation. The magnetic pulses used in TMS can stimulate brain activity. This increased activity causes release of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Increasing brain activity in areas that control mood regulation can reduce the symptoms of depression.

Anxious depression affects nearly 10 to 16 million adults in the United States each year. TMS therapy for this condition functions much in the same way that it does for depression. Anxious depression is characterized as MDD accompanied by several symptoms of anxiety. Stimulating and resetting the neurotransmitters in the areas of the brain where the chemicals are imbalanced can help reduce the symptoms of anxious depression.

Not only can TMS improve treatment-resistant depression and anxious depression, but it can benefit people with OCD, too. In cases where OCD symptoms don’t improve with talk therapy and medication, TMS can be used. When treating OCD, TMS treatment targets a different area of the brain. Delivering treatment to these deeper brain structures can help disrupt repetitive thought patterns and alleviate OCD symptoms. 

Active Path Mental Health can provide the brain stimulation therapy you need

We understand how significant of an impact certain mental health conditions can have on your life. Depression, anxious depression or OCD can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Each of these can affect daily activities, interpersonal relationships and quality of life. Fortunately, treatment from our Active Path Mental Health team can help. We’re here to help you find relief from your mental health symptoms. With us, you’ll get the treatment you need to begin experiencing a better quality of life.

Active Path Mental Health is proud to provide treatment from several locations. We serve patients in both Oregon and Washington. The team members at each location are dedicated to providing patient relief. Whether it’s depression, anxious depression or OCD, we want to help. But don’t just take it from us, take it from our patient reviews.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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