RTMS – for depression

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (RTMS), a new and approved, effective treatment for generalised anxiety and depression.

A study in 2015 in London indicated that 66% of treatment-resistant depressed patients (i.e. those not responding to talking therapies or medication) achieved remission at the end of the treatment course (1). Length of depression did not affect likelihood of remission. In December 2015 RTMS was approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), the relevant guideline is IPG542. It is currently used in the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and many European countries.

The principle behind RTMS is that electrical impulses applied to the brain have been shown to have a beneficial effect on a range of mental illnesses, in particular anxiety and depression. Stimulation is produced by generating a brief, high-intensity magnetic field when passing a brief electric current through a magnetic coil near a person’s head. This in turn creates an electric field (induction) in the patient’s brain. There are very few side effects of the treatment, occasionally patients will experience dizziness. The process is non-invasive and does not involve applying electrodes to the brain. It is painless and the effects are long lasting.

Patients are initially screened for a range of conditions including epilepsy, fainting spells and head trauma.

Each session usually lasts for approximately one hour each working day. Our RTMS machine is located in the West Byfleet Medical Centre, Madeira Rd, West Byfleet KT14 6DH. A psychiatrist monitors the treatment and undertakes consultations with the patient during the course. The psychiatrist is supported by nurses and technicians who will operate the equipment.

Patients are advised to have a couple of sessions after the initial treatment has been completed when depressive, or other symptoms reoccur. Typically this is once or twice a year.

The treatment tends to be used for patients that are resistant to traditional pharmaceutical solutions. Although primarily used for anxiety and depression, there is growing evidence indicating that it may be an effective treatment for a wide range of mental illnesses with varying levels of efficacy. These include: pain, movement disorders, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, consciousness disorders, tinnitus, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders such as Anorexia and craving/addictions.

(1) as defined by achieving a score of less than 12 on the self-report Beck Depression (BDI-II) and Anxiety Inventories (BAI)

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