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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Vs. Electroconvulsive Therapy


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As a dedicated team of mental health professionals specialized in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), BrainHealth Solutions is ready to answer your questions about TMS, how it works, and who qualifies for the procedure. One of the most frequent questions that patients have about TMS therapy is how TMS compares to other brain stimulation treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). When it comes to TMS vs. ECT, both treatments are used to manage treatment-resistant depression and other accompanying mental health disorders in patients for whom more conventional treatments have failed. Today, we will discuss the differences in method and outcome between Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Electroconvulsive Therapy.

What Is ECT? 

ECT is a brain stimulation treatment that sends controlled electric currents directly to the brain, triggering mild seizures to “reset” the brain and hopefully improve the patient’s mental condition. A team of specialists administers the treatment in a hospital setting, and patients are given muscle relaxants and general anesthesia to guarantee their relaxation during the procedure. After electrodes have been secured to specific points on the patient’s scalp and anesthesia has been administered, the brain will be stimulated with a brief, controlled series of electric pulses that induce seizures for about one minute.

What Is TMS Therapy (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)?

In contrast to ECT, TMS is non-invasive and relies on targeted magnetic energy to increase or decrease the activity levels of certain areas in the brain which are behaving abnormally due to an ongoing mental illness. TMS therapy does not use direct electric currents to force a global brain reset and instead seeks to trigger the brain’s natural healing processes by magnetically stimulating targeted parts of the brain. Treatment is quick and painless and is done in-office, with the vast majority of patients even able to drive themselves home after treatment. It does not require anesthesia, and patients can sit comfortably in a reclining chair, fully awake, for the entire treatment session. 

TMS versus ECT: Which Is Best For You?

When it comes to the argument of TMS vs. ECT, both TMS and ECT can be effective in treating the symptoms of depression and other co-occurring disorders. ECT is better suited as a frontline approach for managing bouts of rapid depression and persistent psychotic symptoms, but it has significant drawbacks. Because of the invasive nature of the treatment, it’s usually recommended that patients take a break from life affairs, especially since the treatment is mostly administered in a hospital setting. As well, Ect has significant side effects emerging both from the anesthesia used and neurological complications, such as amnesia, emerging from the treatment itself. On the other hand, TMS therapy is to be a more versatile and flexible option for patients and can more easily be fitted into your schedule. It has been proven effective at helping both people who started dealing with a mental health condition in more recent times and those patients who have had little to no success with other treatment methods. It can also be useful for individuals who are receiving other forms of treatment, like medication and psychotherapy. It’s a safe and consistent choice for people who cannot endure the harsh side effects of other treatments like ECT. TMS therapy is completely non-invasive, well tolerated and safe for most people, non-sedative, devoid of pharmaceutical side effects, FDA cleared for depression and OCD, and capable of creating long-lasting results. What more could you ask for in a comprehensive mental health treatment?

What is the Main Difference Between ECT and TMS Therapy

The difference is explained in the name itself. ECT stands for Electro-Convulsive Therapy, in other words, it uses electric currents to bring therapy to the brain. Whereas, TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Therapy, in other words, it uses magnets to deliver therapy to the brain.

The main difference’s between ECT and TMS Therapy: 

ECT uses electricity

  • ECT Therapy Introduced in the 1930s. These therapies also are different in when they were invented and introduced into the world of therapeutic solutions and brain health. ECT Therapy was introduced in the 1930’s, to treat patients with mental illness, seizures, and severe depression. However, in the 1940s and 1950s a bad stigma started to be viewed in the movies, as well as doctors who improperly used the technology to treat their patients. Now with modern medicine ECT Therapy is coming back with more popularity and more effectiveness.

TMS uses magnets

  • TMS Therapy Introduced in the 1980s. Introduced in 1985 by Dr. Anthony Barker invented the therapy by using a simple magnetic coil and while running the magnetic coil over certain regions of the brain, the brain tissues and muscles contracted. Thus leading scientists around the world to start to study and adopt this as a way to bring healing to the brain tissues and muscles in the mind.

Brainhealth Solutions: TMS Therapy Near Me

With the distinction between TMS and ECT clarified, you may have a better idea of what’s suitable for your situation. In many cases, we find that patients gravitate towards TMS therapy, because of the above-mentioned benefits. If you are ready to take the next step in addressing your mental health setbacks, BrainHealth Solutions is here to help.Proudly serving Costa Mesa, Irvine, Santa Ana and the rest of Orange County, California. To get started with a treatment plan, contact us today!

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