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February 06, 2019

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation—The Best Mental Health Treatment You’ve Never Heard Of

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation—The Best Mental Health Treatment You’ve Never Heard Of

Image courtesy of Smart TMS

As a society, we are becoming more aware of mental illness and how important it is that we look after our mental health as much as our physical health. Here's how Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can help.

Official statistics collated by the mental health charity Mind, report that one in four people will suffer from a mental health condition in any given year. To put this into perspective, based on the UK population being approx. 66 million, 16.5 million people are suffering with some form of mental illness in a single year.

Traditional treatment for mental health conditions, such as depression or OCD, include anti-depressants, mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and peer support, however many patients are resistant to the conventional treatments they receive.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS for short, was first developed in the UK over three decades ago and is now NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) approved as safe and effective in the treatment of depression—a condition that affects one in six people nationally each year. Effective for patients who haven’t responded to other treatments, and those who don’t want to take medication, TMS has revolutionised the way that professionals think about treating patients and is fast becoming the go-to option due to its ability to treat the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.    

How does TMS work?

Dr Leigh Neal, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Smart TMS, explains how a specially designed coil uses pulsing magnetic fields to increase or decrease activity in the brain centres, proven by scans to be associated with the psychiatric condition being treated. For example, the left frontal cortex has been shown to be involved in the regulation of mood, so this is the area of the brain that the TMS treatment focuses on when treating depression.

Why choose TMS?

For those suffering with psychiatric conditions, the first treatments offered are often medication and talking therapies, but these don’t work for everyone. Some patients don’t want to use pharmaceutical drugs to treat their condition and some have found that they are ‘treatment resistant’, in that they don’t respond to any of the medications available to them by their doctor.

TMS is drug-free, safe and administered as an outpatient treatment, meaning no long stays in hospital.

Which conditions are treated using TMS?

Smart TMS are the leading provider of TMS in the UK and ROI and currently treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Addictions to cocaine, smoking, alcohol, gambling and more…

TMS is highly researched all over the world and experts continue to discover new ways that the magnetic therapy can improve their patients’ symptoms.

Is TMS like ECT?

Where TMS delivers short bursts of concentrated magnetic fields to the specific area brain, ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) uses electric shocks and induces seizures in the whole brain. ECT is carried out under general anaesthetic, with the attendant risks and can cause memory loss, whereas TMS doesn’t require any anaesthetic, is an outpatient treatment which requires no sedatives and allows the patient to leave the clinic immediately. There are no reported cases of memory loss following TMS.  

What are the side effects of TMS?

Unlike anti-depressants, TMS doesn’t cause weight gain, decreased sex drive, nausea and dry mouth. Between five and 10 percent of patients receiving TMS may experience a mild headache, which is easily treatable with paracetamol, however 90 percent of patients don’t get any side effects at all! A side effect to be considered is the risk of convulsion, however this only occurs in 1 in 30,000 sessions. TMS can also make the patient feel quite tired, however many patients continue their day to day life immediately following their session.

Where can I receive TMS treatment?

TMS is not currently widely offered by the NHS and is primarily offered in private clinics, with insurance companies funding treatment on a case by case basis. Smart TMS have clinics in:

  • London
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Havant
  • Dublin

Contact: Leah Burt

Smart TMS
0345 222 5678