Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study regarding transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and its efficacy in treating depression. Depression is the world’s leading cause of disability, partly because treatment options often result in numerous side effects or patients do not respond at all. And there are many people who never seek treatment because mental illness can carry heavy stigma and discrimination.
TMS is a treatment for people who have run out of options in treating their depression. The FDA-cleared protocol requires daily 20-minute sessions for six weeks.
The Stanford University study built upon the standard TMS treatment, with two distinct differences – the use of imaging and the number of pulses delivered. The new protocol is called Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT). With this treatment, also known as the Stanford accelerated intelligent neuromodulation therapy (or SAINT) scientists start with an MRI scan to determine the best possible location to deliver electrical pulses to participants’ brains. Then for a 10-minute block every hour for 10 hours a day for five consecutive days, participants sat in a chair while a magnetic field stimulated their brains.
A coil was placed on top of the participant’s head, creating a magnetic field that sent electric pulses through the skull to tickle the surface of the brain. Participants said it felt like a woodpecker tapping on the skull every 15 seconds. The electrical current is directed at the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that plans, dreams, and controls our emotions.
“It’s an area thought to be underactive in depression,” said Nolan Williams, a psychiatrist and rTMS researcher at Stanford. “We send a signal for the system to not only turn on but to stay on and remember to stay on.”
A recent randomized control trial, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, shows impressive results are possible in five days of treatment or less. Almost 80% of patients achieved remission — meaning they were symptom-free within a month. This is compared to about 13% of people who received the placebo treatment.
At Active Path, we only use evidence-based FDA-cleared TMS protocols for the treatment of major depressive disorder, anxious depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. To learn more about TMS, visit the following pages: TMS Treatment Defined, How TMS Works, and What TMS Treats. If you are interested in learning what TMS can do for you or a loved one, schedule a complimentary consultation via the form below.