Brain stimulation. Have you ever thought about the actual brain and how might a normal brain looks in comparison to a depressed brain?
Thanks to advances in technology and neuro-imaging research we have a better understanding of the brain itself and what it looks like when a person is going through a depressive episode. Studies have shown that when a person is going through depression there is decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex and parts of the limbic system, which is responsible for emotion, thinking and planning. The image shows the difference between a person with a normally functioning brain and someone with a depressed brain. Through effective depression treatment, neurons located in the underachieve parts of the brain are stimulated to reignite and improve mood functioning.
While some people respond well to pharmacotherapy (medication treatment/drugs) and psychotherapy (counselling treatment) many others do not and that is where other forms of brain stimulation come in. Transcranial magnetic stimulation plays a rather important role in depression treatment as it is a very targeted technology that focuses on specifically treating the targeted areas of the brain that have become under-active. This form of brain stimulation is not associated with the significant side effects that are often associated with pharmacotherapy. TMS is also often more attractive than electroconvulsive therapy as this form of therapy requires hospitalisation, anaesthetic and treats the entire brain rather than focusing on the targeted parts of the brain that require brain stimulation. Click here for more information about the side effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy
So how can transcranial magnetic stimulation help?
TMS or transcranial magnetic stimulation is a powerful and effective tool that can be used to help treat the under-active parts of the brain. TMS technology is based on magnetic therapy and features a magnetic coil that sends short pulses to neurons in the targeted region of the brain. The neurons are stimulated by the magnetic pulses which ignites this part of the brain to become active again. Neuro-imaging studies show that stimulation results in improvements in metabolism in the targeted brain area responsible for mood and emotion.
Image Source: Mark George, M.D Biological Psychiatry Branch Division of Intramural Research Programs. NIMH1993.