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How Does TMS Work and How Does it Affect The Brain?

illustration of a brain made up of puzzle pieces

Have you tried a hodgepodge of conventional methods for treating your anxiety, depression, and OCD, and to no avail, your symptoms have seen little improvement? Treatment-resistant disorders are not at all uncommon. While standard SSRIs paired with therapy can work in combating these bouts of physical and emotional turmoil, many are still not getting the relief they need. However, TMS therapy could be the alternative you need to solve these issues. But what does TMS do to the brain?

How does TMS work on the brain?

Brainhealth Solutions wants to help you decide if transcranial magnetic stimulation is the right treatment for you, by explaining what TMS does to the brain.

The function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

We would be remiss if we didn’t address the various parts of the brain, their function, and the relation to TMS therapy. The prefrontal cortex in our brains is responsible for executive functions, including the ability to distinguish between actions, ideas, and outcomes. It also controls our decision-making abilities and the expression of your personality. The prefrontal cortex is made up of many parts, each with their own specialized functions. Conversely, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is important in determining one’s emotional responses to places, people, and events. Some of the main functions of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex include:

  1. Working memory

  2. Decision-making

  3. Motor planning

Apart from being involved in your brain’s emotional responses to your surrounding environments, the prefrontal cortex is connected to other parts of the brain that release well-known neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin for regulating mood. Taking emotional responses into consideration, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps you in deciding on actions, based on the rigid assessment of potential outcomes.

How TMS stimulates various parts of the brain

So how does TMS work? TMS has effectively been used to treat various areas of the brain for many years. Its safety and non-invasiveness makes it a more coveted option, compared to conventional methods. During TMS therapy, Dr. Bota will place a coil next to the patient’s head to emit targeted, magnetic pulses to stimulate and increase the level of activity in the brain. The electric currents are painless and patients can expect the same experience in every single one of their treatment sessions. The magnetic coil generates an electromagnetic field, providing much-needed energy for the neurons to reach what is colloquially known as the action potential (AKA–the neurons turning on). When the neurons are activated, it causes other neurons and messages to fire. The never-ending roadway of neurons permeates into deep areas of the brain like the limbic system.  This is where those pathways are located, and are associated with feelings of happiness, less anxiety, feeling relaxation, and less content. In terms of how TMS shines, it does so by activating a pathway hundreds or even thousands of times. During repeat sessions, the therapeutic pathways are activated hundreds of thousands of times. The more that these therapeutic maneuvers are activated and practiced, the more formidable your brain becomes in mastering emotional resiliency, that also means you will begin to feel less depressed and anxious. TMS essentially “resets the brain”, but it achieves without intervention from anesthetics, and yields little to no side effects. 

Is TMS Therapy Right For Me?

Many of our patients find success with TMS therapy, but in order to maintain your progression, you will need to undergo multiple sessions of treatment. With that said, much success is found when TMS is also paired with other forms of therapy, like talk therapy. In terms of this topic of discussion, TMS will not cause any adverse effects to the brain. It’s had the seal of approval from the FDA since 2008, and its resourcefulness is continuing to expand. If this sounds right for you, get in touch with the team of medical professionals with Brainhealth Solutions. We’d love to talk to you to see how much of a fit this can be for you! 


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