Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation — also known as Deep TMS — is an innovative technology that brings the findings of neuroscience into practical application in mental health treatment. But if you’re still asking yourself, “What is Deep TMS?” or “How can Deep TMS help me?”, keep reading to learn more and decide whether this new form of treatment is right for you.
The Basics of Deep TMS
Deep TMS is a relatively new form of mental health treatment. But it takes a unique approach compared to more conventional mental health interventions, such as psychotropic medication or behavioral therapy.
Where conventional treatments aim to treat the symptoms of mental illness or address the cause through indirect means, Deep TMS treats mental illness in the most direct way possible by transmitting electrical signals into brain regions that are impacted by mental illness.
Nearly every mental health disorder is associated with some type of altered brain functioning when compared to neurotypical controls. People who live with depression, for instance, experience significant alterations in the amygdala, thalamus, and hippocampus.
Reduced activity in these regions is partly responsible for the symptoms of this disorder. Taking medication for depression or participating in therapy may help speed the process of reversing these alterations, but it often takes a great deal of time and doesn’t work for everyone.
Deep TMS can directly stimulate these underactive brain regions. Using powerful electromagnetic impulses delivered by a specialized device, Deep TMS can help these regions rebuild electrical connections. It can create long-term changes in the severity and frequency of a number of different mental health conditions.
How Deep TMS Produces Long-Term Results
Even though the electrical impulses from Deep TMS only last for a moment, they can produce long-lasting results that keep your mental health disorder from getting worse. When neurons send electrical signals to each other, they build neuronal networks that make it more likely that they will continue to fire over and over again.
This process occurs naturally in every brain, every day. It’s how we learn new behaviors, build habits, gain skills, and form memories. But in regions that don’t have robust neural networks between them, it is difficult to build these networks through behavioral interventions alone.
Deep TMS is a shortcut to creating these changes. By providing electrical impulses deep within the brain, these underactive regions are kick-started and begin building powerful neural networks that are more likely to continue to have increased activity. By analogy, a path becomes a trail, a trail becomes a road, and a road becomes a highway.
Benefits of Deep TMS
You may still be wondering, “What is Deep TMS’s advantage over other treatments?” While this intervention offers a unique approach to treating mental health disorders, there are several other evidence-based treatment options available. But there are so many benefits to Deep TMS!
- Is completely non-invasive
- Produces long-term results
- Can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other evidence-based methods
- Often succeeds where traditional treatment options have failed
- Has minimal side effects
- Is an effective approach for those who want to avoid taking medication
Choosing whether Deep TMS is the right intervention for you depends on what specific challenges you need to overcome, your personal preferences, and any co-occurring conditions that may impact your treatment plan.
What Is Deep TMS Capable of Treating?
Deep TMS is still a relatively new technology and intervention, and the full extent of what it can treat is still yet to be discovered. But it has been FDA-approved for a number of different mental health challenges, including:
- Depression treatment
- Anxiety treatment
- Smoking cessation
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment
Each of these interventions targets different regions of the brain and has a unique treatment plan to ensure that every client gets the maximum benefit from treatment.
Living with a mood disorder can be debilitating. It can steal your energy, make you feel hopeless about the future, or cause your professional or social life to suffer while you’re dealing with your symptoms.
Deep TMS depression treatment is a simple and effective solution for many people. Deep TMS has been FDA-approved for several different types of depression, including both major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxious depression.
In randomized controlled trials, Deep TMS has proven itself to be highly effective at helping people overcome their symptoms of depression. Using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, people who received four weeks of Deep TMS saw a 6.39-point reduction in depressive symptoms on average — a substantial result in just four weeks.
By week five, after the intervention was completed, nearly a third (32.6%) of participants no longer met clinical criteria for major depressive disorder. This effect held steady through week 16, when 31.6% of participants were still in remission. But the overall response rate — counting people whose symptoms improved significantly — was closer to half (44.3%).
This study makes two key components of Deep TMS clear: it works for many people with depressive disorder, and the effects of Deep TMS last for a significant period after treatment is completed.
Anxiety treatment with Deep TMS has been found to produce similar results. Although the only anxiety disorder currently FDA-approved for Deep TMS treatment is anxious depression, recent studies have found that Deep TMS can also be an effective intervention for generalized anxiety disorder as well as occupational stress.
Using Deep TMS to treat anxiety is still a cutting-edge option, and the current findings have limitations. Studies are early, have smaller samples, and are not yet randomized or blinded.
Yet the results are shockingly positive, with reductions of anxiety as high as 88.7% for people experiencing occupational stress and 70.7% reductions for people with generalized anxiety disorder.
Currently, treating generalized anxiety disorder with Deep TMS is considered an off-label treatment. While it is still a highly safe procedure, the findings are still too new to be considered evidence-based medicine.
However, it is still an exciting and capable intervention for people who are struggling to overcome the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and are seeking out new treatment methods to help them on the path to recovery.
Breaking free from a smoking addiction is known to be difficult. Tobacco is a highly addictive substance that leads to intense cravings, physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, and several severe negative health effects.
Existing treatments for smoking cessation are often minimally effective, come with a number of unwanted side effects, or simply replace the nicotine in tobacco — keeping people hooked on the addictive substance. But with Deep TMS, effective and FDA-approved treatment exists.
Like so many other substance use disorders, smoking addiction causes lasting changes in the brain, making it difficult for people to stop independently. Deep TMS targets these impacted regions, making it easier for people to smoke less or stop smoking altogether.
In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, Deep TMS helped 28% of participants to stop smoking altogether at a four-month follow-up. But even the people who continued to smoke saw a massive improvement. On average, they dropped from 128 cigarettes per week down to just 32.
If you’re trying to overcome a smoking habit, Deep TMS may be just the boost you need. It can also be combined with other evidence-based methods for smoking cessation, such as psychotherapy or medication.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment
Deep TMS for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a safe and effective way of helping people improve the symptoms of their disorder. In a double-blind, randomized, controlled study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 38.1% of participants saw a substantial improvement in their OCD symptoms with Deep TMS, and 54.8% saw a partial improvement.
Like the other treatment options listed above, Deep TMS for OCD can be combined with other evidence-based methods to produce an even more transformative result. But it can also be used as a tool for people who have tried other treatments without success and are still looking for treatments that can help them on the road to recovery.
The Deep TMS Process
Starting Deep TMS is simple. When you sign up, you’ll meet with the members of your clinical team, who will explain the entire process, inform you of any side effects you may experience, and create a map of your brain. This helps localize your treatment to specific brain regions that have been impacted by your mental health challenge.
A typical Deep TMS session lasts between 60 and 90 minutes, but many people begin to feel the effects of their sessions almost immediately. After several sessions, you should start to see substantial improvement in your symptoms.
If you still have questions about Deep TMS or want to get signed up for treatment, reach out to the team at Plus by APN by using the live chat function on our website or by filling out our confidential online contact form. You can achieve recovery — and Deep TMS is an exciting new way to help you reach your goals.
- Levkovitz, Yechiel et al. “Efficacy and safety of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation for major depression: a prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial.” World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) vol. 14,1 (2015): 64-73. doi:10.1002/wps.20199
- Moraga-Amaro, R., Muñoz, P., Villalobos, T., Linsambarth, S., Maldonado, F., Meirone, V., Femopase, B., & Stehberg, J. (2023). Real-world data of non-invasive stimulation of the human insula-prefrontal cortices using deep TMS to treat anxiety for occupational stress and generalized anxiety disorder. Psychiatry research, 320, 115036. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2022.115036
- “Smoking Addiction Treatment.” BrainsWay, www.brainsway.com/treatments/smoking-addiction/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.
- “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment.” BrainsWay, https://www.brainsway.com/treatments/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.