Past trauma shouldn’t rule your life, but when you have PTSD, it does. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, FDA-approved procedure that can treat a variety of mental health conditions, including PTSD. The treatment doesn’t rely on medication, sedation, or anesthesia.
How Can TMS Therapy Help My PTSD?Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by being involved in or witnessing extremely distressing or frightening events. Various brain regions and their functions are affected in people who suffer from PTSD. Key parts of the brain that can change following trauma include:
- The amygdala – The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a very ancient part of your brain. This almond-shaped structure deals with survival instincts and the way you express emotions, especially fear.
- The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) – This is a more sophisticated region of the brain that also processes emotions
- The hippocampus – Hippocampus is responsible for storing and retrieving your memories.
Can TMS Cure My PTSD?Many patients with PTSD are treatment-resistant. That means they have tried all of the standard forms of treatment, but they have not worked. This usually includes:
- Medications, like SSRI antidepressants
- Talk therapy, like:
- Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
How Will I Know I’m Being Helped?A full course of TMS treatments for PTSD includes five sessions a week for up to six weeks, then a three-week period of less frequent sessions. After a regular round of sessions, patients have reported that their PTSD symptoms are less intense and that they are much less likely to experience them. Each person’s experience of PTSD is different, although common symptoms of PTSD you may notice improving include:
- Vivid flashbacks, as if the traumatic event is being relived
- Intrusive thoughts and images
- Intense distress at actual or symbolic reminders of the traumatic event
- Physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, nausea, and trembling
- Extreme alertness or ‘hypervigilance’
- Sleep problems
- Irritability and aggressive behavior
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse
- Emotional numbness