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How to Handle a TMS Dip


woman frustrated at the computer

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), is a clinically-approved treatment that has been shown to relieve symptoms of depression in patients who cannot find relief with other treatment methods. A majority of patients habitually receive TMS therapy in Irvine CA and are often symptom-free. However, some patients can experience a phenomenon known as a dip about halfway through treatment. But like other temporary setbacks, it’s incredibly feasible to handle a TMS dip. 

What is the TMS Dip?

A dip is a temporary period where your symptoms have worsened. It is definitely frustrating for patients, as they go into treatment only expecting positive results. So why do these dips occur and how common are they? To gain a better understanding of how to handle a TMS dip, let’s recap on how treatment works. 

TMS Therapy’s Function in Treating Depression

TMS therapy in Irvine CA works by stimulating the electrical activity of neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that are underactive or inactive. TMS is administered by using special coils that are strategically placed on specific parts of the head. The positioning of the coil will help in guiding the magnetic pulses to the specific areas of the brain that are associated with the brain–(the prefrontal cortex or DLPFC.) When the neurons are electrically stimulated, they will start to reactivate and release neurotransmitters. Simply put, TMS will reset the neurons and modify the ways in which they connect and communicate with each other, leading to the formation of new neural pathways. 

For patients that are suffering from depression, their brain is used to functioning in certain patterns that use distinct neural pathways–much like a habit. TMS overrides these neural habits associated with depression and gives the brain the opportunity to form new patterns. New neural pathways allow the brain to develop these new communication patterns that positively impact the patient’s behavioral and thinking patterns. 

Why Does the TMS Dip Occur?

As detailed above, TMS will continually stimulate the neurons in the brain. The stimulation causes a temporary distribution of the brain’s conventional patterns of activity, namely, its habits. The disruption frequently impacts patients in one of two ways:

  1. Increased alertness and/or energy

  2. Worsening of depression symptoms

The disarrangement is only temporary and over time, the brain will begin to form new neural pathways. When these pathways form, patients will start to experience the true benefits of TMS therapy. The pathways in the DLPFC form new connections with other parts of the brain. In doing so, a new network of communication is created with revamped pathways and patterns of functioning. 

The construction of the new pathways will take time. This is because the brain produces and uses immense amounts of energy when establishing these connections. 

Signs and Symptoms of TMS Dip

Patients dealing with a TMS dip could notice the manifestation of symptoms in the following ways:

  1. Feelings of hopelessness

  2. Lethargy

  3. Sadness

One of the most important things that we want to stress is that it’s important to stay the course in TMS treatment, even if the initial process is arduous. 

How to Handle a TMS Dip

If you are currently undergoing TMS therapy in Irvine CA with our team at Brainhealth Solutions and are dealing with a dip, talk to your presiding doctor. It’s imperative that you continue with treatment, even if dips happen. Your doctor can speak with you on how to properly manage your symptoms, and might even recommend that you incorporate wellness practices as part of your ongoing depression treatment. To learn more about TMS treatment and its benefits, contact us today to discuss a potential treatment regime!

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