For those who have been looking for help treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder (MDD), or anxiety, there is now an effective treatment to try. It’s called Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS or dTMS). Deep TMS isn’t as complicated as it may sound. With this FDA-approved treatment, a helmet with a coil is placed on a patient’s head. This coil then sends magnetic waves into specific areas of the patient’s brain to stimulate neuron activity. Over 60 clinical studies have confirmed this is a great treatment option for the diagnoses listed above (with research currently underway for new treatment areas).
In this blog, you’ll learn about the fascinating research and developments taking place, and how Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can help with a range of symptoms.
What is Deep TMS? A Deeper Dive.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS) is an option for the treatment of psychological disorders such as major depressive disorder. Originally developed in 1985, this technology gained approval in the U.S. by the FDA in October 2008 for Depression. In August 2018, almost ten years later, Deep TMS was approved for OCD treatment.
Deep TMS sends magnetic waves into a patient’s brain to effectively give their brain
a workout. It’s like push-ups for the parts of the brain that control mood and attention, helping a patient to feel and be their best.
Now, some may say this sounds like science fiction, but Deep TMS is a highly effective and highly safe new treatment. One can see how safe it is from the side effects. The most common side effect is a headache that goes away within hours of treatment. And a patient’s brain gets used to the treatments in about a week in most cases, so the headaches don’t happen at every session. The point is that this treatment offers a lot of upsides and has very little potential downside.
Is Deep TMS Effective for OCD, Anxiety, Depression, Smoking
The short answer is yes, Deep TMS has been proven effective in treating depression, anxious depression, OCD, and even smoking cessation. In multiple studies of 30 treatments, each lasting about 20 minutes and occurring once per day for five days out of the week, a majority of patients saw improvement in depressive symptoms. And in one study in particular, just under half (48.1% to be exact) reported remission from depressive symptoms!
Who is Eligible to use Deep TMS for OCD, Anxiety, or Depression
In the U.S., most insurance providers will cover the cost of your Deep TMS treatment for depression assuming you’ve tried at least 1 antidepressant medication. Deep TMS is recommended for those who have treatment-resistant depression, or those who haven’t found relief with medication and/or talk therapy. Patient’s with metal in their cranium are not eligible for treatment (as this could interfere with the magnetic waves). Our clinics in the Chicagoland area can help you determine if Deep TMS is a good option for you.
Benefits of Deep TMS Treatments:
- It’s non-invasive. As opposed to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), patient’s won’t have electrodes placed inside their skull. Instead, they’ll have a magnetic helmet that does all the work non-invasively.
- No anesthesia required. It’s possible for the patient to drive himself to and from appointments, making treatment as convenient as a therapy session and with no lingering grogginess.
- No hospital stays (or hospital gowns). Because Deep TMS is non-surgical, patients are free to go home and sleep in their bed after a session. Plus, patients can wear their normal clothes during visits. Just take any hats or glasses off at the door.
- No systemic side effects. Deep TMS is a highly targeted approach. This means patients don’t have to worry about body-wide side effects like weight gain or the myriad side effects that come with medication: hair loss, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, and others.
- Treatment is fast! For OCD and Depression in particular, 20-30 treatments across 4-6 weeks should do the trick. In clinical studies, most patients experiencing OCD saw improvement within 20 sessions.
- Treatments are becoming more effective. In the coming decade, some researchers believe Deep TMS will take less treatments to be effective. Additionally, in the future a session could be as short as 3-5 minutes, and it’s hoped that eventually all treatment sessions will fit inside one week.
- No memory impairments. As proven by over 60 clinical studies at a number of clinics in the U.S.
- Deep TMS is a great option for those experiencing OCD symptoms. It’s a fact that 4 million people in the U.S. experience OCD. That’s why finding effective treatments is so urgent and important. When the FDA authorized the use of TMS for OCD in 2018, it was a big leap forward in OCD treatment. Researchers have even pinpointed the exact areas of the brain to target for OCD treatment. One 2020 study showed that 60% of those with OCD experienced improvement in symptoms.
- Deep TMS works in just 4-6 weeks (in most cases). This is faster than some medications.
- Your treatment may be covered. From the BrainsWay website: “In the U.S., most commercial insurances and Medicare are now covering Deep TMS for depression and anxious depression. Coverage for OCD is more limited but expanding.” Note: BrainsWay is the developer and owner of their patented H-coil, which has proven very effective in treatment. This is the same brand we use at Hopemark Health.
- Deep TMS for OCD has very little side effects compared to most antidepressant medications. When new patient’s see how short the list is, they think we’re joking.
- Patients can read, watch tv, or do nothing at all during treatments. There’s no need to do anything for Deep TMS to work (other than show up).
With the efficacy and safety of Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, it could be the treatment of the future – at least for people meeting the criteria for its use. If a patient has had strong negative side effects with medication, or has seen little to no improvement in his symptoms with psychotherapy, Deep TMS may be the right treatment. So, if you need help navigating your insurance policy or determining if Deep TMS is right for you, we can help.