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It’s normal to feel anxious every now and then. When you’re nervous about a presentation at work or financial issues, you can often alleviate the stress with deep breathing exercises or working out. But when your anxiety stems from a depression diagnosis, it’s important to seek treatment that has been backed by research and data.

There’s also a breakthrough treatment for depression, called transcranial magnetic stimulation

At Active Path Mental Health, we describe TMS as a breakthrough treatment as opposed to an alternative because it can be used in tandem with other options, not always instead of.

We’ll talk about the basics of TMS and compare the option to other potential treatments for anxiety symptoms from depression. Then we’ll discuss what you can expect from TMS treatment.

TMS: A breakthrough treatment for depression with anxious features

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, often known as TMS, is a neurostimulation therapy. It transmits pulses of magnetic energy to areas of the brain that contribute to symptoms of anxiety. 

The goal of TMS is to stimulate brain activity in underactive parts of the brain that are involved in mood regulation.

TMS is often used to alleviate symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. It also helps depression with anxious features, or anxious depression. If you’re diagnosed with anxious depression, it means that you have a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder that causes anxiety symptoms. It does not refer to a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis that causes depressive symptoms.

It’s important to note that TMS isn’t used as a treatment for anxiety on its own. 

Comparing TMS to other treatments for anxiety stemming from depression

TMS is a mental health treatment option for those who haven’t experienced reduced anxiety symptoms from other depression treatment options, such as antidepressants. It’s also a safe and effective choice when compared to other neurostimulation therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Antidepressants are one of the first courses of action for depression diagnoses with anxiety symptoms. But they don’t work for everyone. They also have potential side effects. They can cause weight fluctuations, dry mouth and increased irritability. TMS is also a treatment that can be completed alongside antidepressant medication. 

Many people confuse TMS with ECT. While ECT is also a neurostimulation therapy, it uses electric currents instead of pulses of magnetic energy. The currents cause seizures and have more severe potential side effects, such as memory loss.

The results are what make TMS truly stand out from other options: 56% of our patients who undergo TMS experience reduced depression symptoms, including anxiety, and a third achieve remission following a positive response to treatment.

What TMS treatment looks like

If you’ve talked to your healthcare provider and determined that TMS is the right option for your anxiety linked to depression, then it’s important to know what to expect before you get started. By learning about the ins and outs of TMS treatment, you can ease your nerves and focus on the anticipation of improving your mental health. 

Your first session takes up to an hour because it includes measuring your head to make sure that the device fits. The following appointments take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

TMS treatment is completed through 36 treatments that take place over six weeks, with five sessions scheduled per week, followed by a taper. 

When it comes to how you’ll feel during TMS, the pulses of magnetic energy are described as a tapping on the side of the scalp. It’s possible that you’ll experience a few side effects following your sessions, but they tend to be minimal and fade on their own. Your TMS technician can adjust the stimulation in future sessions if you feel side effects like:

  • Mild headaches.
  • Muscle contractions in the face, jaw or scalp.
  • Mild discomfort around the treatment area.

Active Path Mental Health can show you how TMS is a breakthrough treatment for anxiety stemming from depression

Depression and anxiety are closely linked and can both interfere with your overall quality of life, from your ability to handle your daily responsibilities to forming meaningful relationships with others. If you’re experiencing anxious depression or depression with anxious features, it’s time to explore the option of TMS. 

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

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