Neuropsychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) have introduced this latest technique to combat depression and altering moods. The number of persons suffering from major depression is on the rise in India. The usual methods of treatment include drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or yoga.
"Drugs have their side-effects - reduction of appetite, loss of weight, vascular headaches and sexual dysfunction in males are some common ones," informs Dr B N Gangadhar, head of psychiatry, NIMHANS.
While ECT would need anesthesia or analgesics, TMS on the other hand has no adverse side effects except infrequent mild headaches and discomfort at the site of stimulation.
During TMS, electromagnetic coils are fixed on the scalp. Focused magnetic pulses are then produced on the brain's surface. The magnetic field is around 40,000 times strong as that of the earth's magnetic field.
"Technological advances can today help magnetic stimulation produce sufficient current in the brain to result in neurological depolarization," says Dr Gangadhar. The magnetic stimulation is generally given around six to eight times during a session. The number of sessions can vary for each individual.
So, what are the results? Patients being treated with TMS at NIMHANS have shown remarkable signs of recovery. Gangadhar stresses though that TMS might not be a stand-alone treatment for all patients with depression.
Depression can be called a state of the brain where neuro transmitters become dysfunctional. Here, brain activity reduces and fewer transmitters are released. The functioning of the brain's left side is less compared to the right side. This has an impact on the electro-physiological rhythm of the body. It affects sleep, impacts the health of the heart, and brings about sexual and personality disorders.
The Department of Psychiatry, New York University has an online test to assess if your mood swings, irritability are signs of depression