Can TMS Be Used to Treat Anxiety?

Can TMS Be Used to Treat Anxiety?

Many people use medication or talk therapy to treat anxiety symptoms, but some newer techniques may prove even more effective than others in obtaining long-term success and relief. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a completely noninvasive therapy that uses electromagnetic induction to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.

An insulated coil placed over the patient’s head transmits these brief magnetic pulses painlessly through their skull. By focusing these pulses on the part of the brain that affects mood regulation, TMS can improve symptoms of neurological and mental health disorders that may impact one’s daily life.

What Is Anxiety and Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

While everyone can experience feelings of stress and worry from time to time, instances of constant fear and nervousness can impact your ability to function or affect your overall quality of life. Anxiety is a mental health condition that causes persistent and intrusive worries and fears disproportionate to the situation. Anxiety can interfere with your ability to fulfill your daily obligations and disrupt your overall quality of life.

Anxiety can manifest in a variety of disruptive physical symptoms, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Reduced concentration

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common type of anxiety. It tends to trigger a profound and excessive sense of anxiety and dread about everyday actions and situations. People with GAD may also experience restlessness, ongoing tension and an unrealistic view of problems.

As one of the most prevalent mental health conditions, anxiety disorders affect around 19% of adults in the United States. These disorders can severely interfere with daily obligations such as school work, job performance and social relationships. Anxiety and depression often co-occur, which can cause people to struggle additionally with feelings of hopelessness, intense sadness and worthlessness.

Areas of the brain like the amygdala trigger an individual’s emotions such as fear by releasing cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol engages a system of arousal called the sympathetic nervous system, which causes individuals to feel the traditional “flight or fight” response. By targeting these specific areas of the brain responsible for controlling feelings of stress and fear, TMS can help keep the symptoms of anxiety in check.

TMS Effectiveness for Treating Anxiety

Does TMS therapy work for anxiety? While TMS has generally helped treat depression and other mood disorders, recent research suggests it can significantly benefit those with anxiety disorders. A 2019 study on TMS’s effectiveness in treating GAD found that TMS may reduce excess nerve cell activity in the prefrontal cortex. TMS can help regulate anxiety, and unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ETC), TMS is not convulsive and requires no anesthesia.

TMS is not yet FDA-approved for anxiety, but research has found that TMS may be an effective and safe way to treat anxiety. While TMS therapy still requires more clinical trials before it gains FDA approval for treating anxiety, many people have sought TMS to reduce their anxiety symptoms. The majority of patients we have treated with TMS at Principium Psychiatry report feeling calmer, with an enhanced ability to cope with stressors and reduce their level of worry.

graphic with blue overlay showing someone on a couch with a notepad and caption explaining how a 2017 study found that TMS can help anxiety with migraine symptoms


Can NeuroStar TMS Therapy Help Anxiety and Migraines?

TMS has long provided help for people living with depression, but researchers are also beginning to explore the benefits of using TMS to treat anxiety, migraines and other brain-related disorders. A 2017 study investigated the effectiveness of TMS for treating migraines and found that TMS therapy can help address anxiety and migraine symptoms.

NeuroStar TMS therapy provides safe and reliable symptom relief for anxiety and has proven effective in modifying brain activity. NeuroStar can treat acute episodes of migraines and prevent the onset of migraines and their symptoms. With the help of TMS, someone who has suffered from migraine pain for years will experience significant symptom relief.

Advantages of TMS Therapy

TMS therapy has several advantages for patients, including:
  • Noninvasive: TMS is a noninvasive, non-systemic and non-pharmacological outpatient treatment that requires no sedation, anesthesia or recovery period after a session. You can resume your daily routine immediately.
  • Effective: TMS treatment features a high success rate. Some patients observe significant symptom relief in weeks after they complete treatment, and some people may even achieve full remission from severe anxiety symptoms.
  • Accessible: Most health insurance plans cover TMS therapy, and a TMS technician or physician will perform the treatment in their office clinic rather than a hospital.
  • Long-lasting: Many people report long-term success from TMS treatment due to its positive impact on the brain’s neurotransmitters.
  • Few side effects: Because TMS requires no invasive procedures or medication, it drastically reduces any negative impact on memory or sleep. The most common repercussions of treatment include infrequent headaches and mild scalp soreness at the site of treatment. Side effects from TMS also tend to disappear after the first few sessions.
TMS therapy’s direct stimulation of nerves or pathways in the brain is typically safe, but TMS may also have certain increased risks for some patients. Individuals with metal implants such as metal plates in the skull, pacemakers, aneurysm coils and other implanted devices may require special precautions. Your doctor will evaluate your eligibility for TMS based on your medical history and any potential risks it may present.

Types of TMS Treatments

There are two types of TMS treatments you can choose from. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) administers short electrical pulses in rapid succession. These repetitive pulses can produce longer-lasting changes in brain activity. By charging the magnetic field through a series of recurring TMS pulses in either high- or low-frequency stimulation, rTMS causes an electric current to flow through specific parts of the brain.

graphic showing two women talking while sitting on furniture and a caption explaining how TMS can be used effectively with antidepressants


Seek TMS Treatment From Principium Psychiatry in Midtown and Lower Manhattan

Anxiety disorder and GAD symptoms can interfere significantly with your day-to-day life. If you have used antidepressants and benzodiazepines for anxiety without results, TMS therapy may help alleviate your anxiety symptoms. Principium Psychiatry offers specialized and comprehensive mood and anxiety disorder treatment at three New York City locations. Our TMS outpatient program offers an innovative approach to treating GAD that can help you regain control over your worries and fears.

As a cutting-edge mental health practice, Principium has embraced new technologies such as TMS treatment to achieve the maximum response rate in our patients’ therapies. We also use a patient-centered and compassionate approach to treat symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders. Our multidisciplinary treatment providers at Principium are caring, knowledgeable and dedicated to helping you achieve balance in your life.

When you choose TMS therapy for anxiety treatment at Principium, you can take charge of your mental health and work toward long-term relief from anxiety symptoms. We also cover patients with a variety of insurance plans to ensure reliable coverage for TMS treatment.

For more information and assistance with any questions, call 1-212-335-0236, or contact us to book your appointment today.

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