Can TMS Be Used to Treat Anxiety or Depression?

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Can TMS Be Used to Treat Anxiety or Depression?

Anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness in the United States and also one of the most treatable. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication are highly effective treatments that can reduce or eliminate symptoms. 

For those with treatment-resistant anxiety and anxiety with depression, there’s a next-level option that addresses the brain’s chemical imbalances safely and noninvasively — transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Dr. Karen Giles at Breakthru Psychiatric Solutions specializes in complex and treatment-resistant mental illnesses and is one of the nation’s leading experts in TMS. Her advanced education in molecular neuroscience and experience as an interventionist enable her to skillfully target the brain’s circuitry through neuromodulation, which often produces quicker and longer-lasting results than conventional treatments. 

From her offices in Sandy Springs, Georgia, a suburb of North Atlanta, Dr. Giles treats patients with debilitating mood disorders with innovative, evidence-based treatments. Here, she explains how TMS works for anxiety and anxiety with depression.

Facts about anxiety

Anxiety disorders come in several types and affect millions of Americans. The statistics may surprise you. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America

  • 40 million US adults suffer from an anxiety disorder
  • Only about 37% seek and receive treatment
  • Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from phobias, general anxiety, and panic disorders
  • Women are three times more likely to suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Women are five times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder 

It’s also interesting to note that about half of all people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder also suffer from depression.

Why anxiety and depression go hand in hand

It may seem that anxiety, a state of high energy, and depression, a state of low energy, are opposite conditions that can’t possibly coexist. Yet, they have a symbiotic relationship, like two sides of a coin that links them closely.

It’s common for people with an anxiety disorder to fully understand that their fears are irrational, yet they still can’t control the worry and panic. This often produces frustration and feelings of failure and self-doubt — a situation ripe for depression. 

The cycle can also begin with depression: You may become worried about your depression symptoms, which may trigger anxiety. Regardless of which came first, both conditions are treatable and typically respond well to talk therapy and medication. 

How TMS works for anxiety and depression

Some anxiety disorders stem from traumatic life experiences, unsafe living conditions, or high-stress conditions, but others originate in the brain. Anxiety can have a genetic component that runs in families and can also develop alongside other conditions, such as depression, substance abuse, and physical issues like diabetes. 

Researchers have shown that some anxiety disorders can be traced to biological issues in the brain's prefrontal cortex. Further, people with anxiety and depression often have low levels of serotonin and dopamine — two essential neurotransmitters that regulate mood. In these cases, medication may help reinstate the balance, but when it doesn’t, TMS can.

TMS is a painless, noninvasive treatment that sends electromagnetic energy currents through your brain. Dr. Giles positions the magnetic coil over the treatment area while the device transmits electrical pulses that target the part of your brain responsible for mood regulation. The stimulation activates your brain and prompts the release of serotonin and dopamine. 

A flood of these neurotransmitters has an immediate yet temporary “feel good” effect, but with repeated TMS sessions over time, the results become permanent as the neurotransmitters generate new connections and retrain your brain to remain chemically balanced. 

Another major benefit to TMS treatment is the lack of systemic side effects often present in antidepressant medications. TMS is safe for use during pregnancy, and, for some patients, TMS is covered by insurance.

This is good news if you have treatment-resistant anxiety and/or depression. These common mental illnesses don’t have to rob you of social interaction, traveling, and full participation in your life. Contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation with Dr. Giles and find out if TMS can resolve your anxiety and depression and restore your life.