TMS Australia patient speaks about life-changing depression treatment on ABC Radio program “All in the Mind” LISTEN NOW
Lachlan, a patient of TMS Australia, speaks about his experience on ABC national radio program “All in the mind” which aired on Sunday 18th December. He explains his condition prior to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as being “dangerously depressed”, “at rock bottom” and “suicidal.” Lachlan was diagnosed with clinical depression in his 20’s after feelings of profound sadness, despair and immense desperation.
1 in 5 people with clinical depression don’t respond to standard anti depression medications such as SSRI class of drugs.
For patients like these, and like Lachlan, another method of non-invasive, non-drug depression treatment such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation should be explored.
“Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is a technology that uses quite strong, but very focused magnetic fields to stimulate and to alter brain activity.” Says Prof Paul Fitzgerald, Professor of Psychiatry at Epworth Health Care and Deputy Director at Monash Alfred Psychiatry Centre in Victoria. “When you apply a very focused changing magnetic field to something that conducts electricity, it will induce an electrical current, and it does that in the nerves of our brain, because they are electrical conductors. When we use TMS in a treatment context what we’re doing is repeatedly applying those pulses to try to change brain activity because the neurons in our brain will adapt if they are repeatedly firing.”
In a depressed person, the area of the brain responsible for regulating emotions is underactive, so what TMS aims to do is to increase the activity in that area of the brain by administering a magnetic pulse to the prefrontal cortex. “What we’re trying to do with this machine is create a clinically significant magnetic pulse, so that we can help stimulate a part of the brain which is necessary for helping people resolve their depression” says Dr Ted Cassidy, a psychiatrist at TMS Australia.
A big advantage of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment is that it is a non-invasive treatment and focuses on a very localised area of the brain, meaning that it only impacts on the area of the brain that needs change, unlike anti-depressant medications and treatments like Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) which are non-specific treatments and can impact other areas of the brain, resulting in side effects such as dizziness, insomnia or memory loss.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is specifically recommended for patients who have failed to respond to psychological therapy and antidepressants.
Patients who have failed two or more antidepressants are nearly four times more likely to respond to TMS treatment, than a third antidepressant.
Some patients combine TMS treatment with therapy as TMS actually augments the effects of psychotherapy by increasing the neuroplasticity of the brain and allowing it to learn more effectively, meaning that the impact of psychotherapy is greater if conducted within 24 hours of having TMS treatment.
Professor Paul Fitzgerald and his colleagues at Monash Alfred Psychiatry Centre in Victoria are currently exploring the use of TMS in other applications such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, auditory hallucinations, post-traumatic stress disorder and improving brain function in people with autism.