Can TMS Therapy Work for People of All Ages?

Can TMS Therapy Work for People of All Ages?

Depression can affect people of any age—even children. While it’s normal for people to have a bad day or feel sad from time to time, if those feelings persist and interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily tasks and function normally then clinical depression may be the cause. Clinical depression affects one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents, according to the federal Center for Mental Health Services. Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people age15 to 44, with roughly six million people affected by late life depression. More than 16.1 million American adults are affected by major depressive disorder and the median age of onset is 32.5 years old, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

There are a number of treatment options for people of all ages who are suffering from depression. Treatments range from psychotherapy to antidepressant medications to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to light therapy to art therapy to transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy (TMS). These therapies can also be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes such as regularly exercising, changing sleep patterns or joining support groups. It can be challenging to find the right treatment plan for your depression because there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution.

Not everyone can take antidepressant medications, which can have side effects such as nausea, weight gain, sexual dysfunction or memory loss. Likewise, not everyone is candidate for ECT, which uses small electric currents to intentionally trigger a brief seizure in order to cause changes in brain chemistry. ECT is a invasive procedure that requires anesthesia and can cause memory loss, nausea and increased blood pressure. TMS is a highly effective treatment alternative for patients who suffer from medication resistant depression because it’s a drug free and noninvasive procedure. It works by using magnetic pulses to electrically stimulate nerve cells in small underactive regions of the brain that control mood. It usually has very mild side effects—a slight headache or irritation at the scalp on the treatment site.

So can TMS therapy work for people of any age? The short answer is not yet. The FDA approved TMS for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults (ages 21 and older) in 2008. TMS is a very effective treatment option for adults of any age—including the elderly. One study found that 58{2997f8544d703ffd995cbf0748d9148f9150b33c2eb54c93a5197645ffc3f066} of elderly patients had significant mood improvement and reduced depression symptoms after TMS treatment. TMS therapy is also deemed a safe and well-tolerated treatment option for elderly patients suffering from depression.

Currently, there are a number of clinical studies underway at 10 U.S. hospitals testing the effectiveness of TMS therapy for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 21. One study being conducted by Beacon Medical Group in South Bend, Indiana is already finding some very promising results from its study. The University of Calgary in Canada is also conducting a study to determine the effectiveness of rTMS treatment for adolescents with major depressive disorder. It has 42 children enrolled in the study and should be wrapping up its initial data collection in December 2017.

TMS therapy is also not a viable option for patients of any age with any type of non-removable metal in their head (excluding braces or fillings), including:

  • Aneurysm clips or coils
  • Stents in the neck or brain
  • Deep brain stimulators
  • Electrodes to monitor brain activity
  • Metallic implants in your ears and eyes
  • Shrapnel or bullet fragments in or near the head
  • Facial tattoos with metallic or magnetic-sensitive ink

If you are unsure if TMS therapy is right for you, contact TMS Neuro Institute in Los Angeles to schedule a free consultation, call 888.823.4867 or book an appointment online here.


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