Your Health Family: MRI technology used in TMS severe depression treatment

Posted at 12:00 PM, May 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-11 11:03:03-04

There is a newer kind of treatment for severe depression called TMS.  Dr. John Fleming with the Southern Colorado TMS center in Colorado Springs say’s it’s a game changer.

“Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or R-TMS helps about 60% of people with treatment resistant depression, whereas a medicine will only help about 13% of people.”

Depression can be a challenge to treat and often finding the right medication, if you do seek help can be hit or miss

Dr. Fleming says, “At least a third of people never get the meds right, they never improve or if they do the medicines they take cause huge side effects.”

Dr. Fleming explains TMS like this, “We use MRI strength energy to generate magnetic pulses that are applied to a part of the brain called the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.  This part of the brain is under active when people are depressed, and by putting high energy magnetic pulses there, we cause the brain to generate its own natural electrical impulses and over time that portion of the brain becomes active and the depression goes away.”

Dr. Fleming says TMS has been used in Europe and Canada since 2000 and in the United States since 2008.  “R-TMS appears to work for a large variety of conditions if you look at the peer review published medical literature.  The F.D.A. has cleared it for the use in major depressive disorder, and is currently reviewing studies about its use in depression, and bipolar disorder.  For example it can be very effective with PTSD, it’s used at Walter Reed and used at San Diego Naval Hospital in Tripler. To treat PTSD at this point it’s off label.”

Finally Dr. Fleming says the only cases where TMS can’t be used, is if the patient has any kind of metal in their head like shrapnel.  The magnetic energy will make metal move, and we don’t want to cause that kind of brain damage, but other than that almost all the other problems that people might have with their brains, we can proceed with R-TMS.”