TMS for Anxiety

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment option for anxiety that has shown promising results. Unlike medications, TMS doesn’t have systemic side effects and is generally well-tolerated.

Medicare  & DVA covered*
No out-of-pocket fees**
Non-invasive treatment

* No-out-of-pocket fees for Medicare patients who meet the Depression eligibility criteria.
** Read more about the cost of TMS and Medicare coverage

TMS therapy has primarily been approved for treating major depressive disorder (MDD); however, some studies suggest that this treatment may also be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. This is because people experiencing depression and anxiety often have decreased activity in their prefrontal cortex – a region that plays a significant role in mood modulation. TMS therapy activates nerves in these underactive regions, which stimulates neuroplasticity – the formation of new neural connections.

More research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and long-term results for treating anxiety disorders, but TMS is currently seen as a promising option thanks to its lack of side effects and non-invasive nature.

What is TMS for Anxiety?

what is tms for anxiety
tms for anxiety o

TMS for anxiety is a brain stimulation procedure that uses high-strength magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain and encourage neuroplasticity, specifically in the regions of the brain involved in mood regulation. TMS is particularly helpful for people with anxiety disorders who have not responded to other treatments, like medication or psychotherapy.

What type of TMS is used to treat anxiety?

While research is still ongoing, the type of TMS most commonly explored for anxiety and depression treatment is deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS). Unlike traditional TMS, which targets more superficial brain regions, deep TMS uses specialised H-coils to reach deeper areas of the brain involved in mood regulation and emotional processing.

There is also some evidence suggesting that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may be effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety. TMS is particularly beneficial when targeted at specific brain regions like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

What are the Benefits of TMS for Anxiety Sufferers?

what are the benefits of tms for anxiety sufferers
benefits of tms for anxiety sufferers

Non-Invasive

TMS is a non-invasive procedure that doesn’t involve surgery or anaesthesia. This makes it a safe and tolerable option if you have anxiety, but are hesitant about more invasive treatments. It also reduces worry about the treatment being painful or needing long-term recovery.

Few Side Effects

Compared to medications for anxiety, TMS has fewer and milder side effects. The most common side effects include headaches, light-headedness, mild scalp discomfort, and facial twitching. However, these are temporary, and no evidence suggests any long-term side effects.

Potential for Long-Term Relief

Some studies suggest that the benefits of TMS for anxiety can be long-lasting. Some people experience a noticeable reduction in symptoms that remains for 6 to 12months or more after completing the treatment course.

Alternative to Medication

If you haven’t responded well to medication or prefer to avoid it, TMS can be a good alternative treatment choice. It may also be a suitable option if you experience negative side effects from medication.

Targeted Treatment

TMS allows for targeted stimulation of specific brain regions involved in anxiety. This could potentially lead to more effective symptom reduction compared to treatments that have a broader effect across the whole brain.

Improved Quality of Life

By reducing anxiety disorder symptoms, TMS can significantly improve the overall quality of life. If your life has been affected severely by anxiety, TMS can allow you to engage more fully in your daily activities and relationships once again.

Who is Eligible for TMS reatment for Anxiety?

Eligibility for rTMS anxiety treatment is determined by a medical professional after a thorough evaluation. You may be eligible if you fall into either of the following groups:

Individuals with Specific Anxiety Disorders

Some studies suggest that TMS can help with certain anxiety disorders, like generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’ve been diagnosed with these disorders, you are more likely to be considered eligible for TMS.

Patients with Treatment-Resistant Anxiety

If you haven’t responded well enough to traditional anxiety treatments, like medication and talk therapy, you may be eligible for TMS. This is especially true if you’ve tried multiple treatment approaches without experiencing any significant improvement.

TMS can also be a great option if medication isn’t an effective treatment option for you due to side effects.

What does the TMS Treatment process involve?

Initial Psychiatric Evaluation

Before starting TMS, you will have an initial psychiatric evaluation to make sure the treatment is appropriate for your specific condition. The psychiatrist will make a decision based on your history and the severity of your condition.

Treatment Sessions

Each TMS session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes, during which magnetic pulses are delivered to the targeted brain area. They are easy sessions, and you can relax, read, listen to music, or even have a nap!

Depending on the severity of the anxiety disorder, you may need treatment for up to 6weeks. This will be determined by your psychiatrist upfront and may be adjusted by the TMS provider as you move through the treatment plan.

Are there any Potential Side Effects of TMS?

are there any potential side effects of tms
potential side effects of tms

Temporary Scalp Discomfort

Some patients may experience temporary scalp discomfort during or after their TMS treatment. This discomfort usually subsides quickly once the treatment session is over.

Dizziness or Headache

Mild headaches are the most frequently reported side effects, often described as mild to moderate and typically subsiding within a few hours after treatment. Light-headedness or dizziness may occur, but this also disappears quickly.

Rare Risk of Seizures in Susceptible People

The risk of seizures with TMS is very low, estimated to be less than 0.1%. However, people with a history of seizures or other neurological conditions may be at a slightly higher risk.

In fact, in patients without seizure risk factors, such as brain lesions or epilepsy, the average risk is estimated to be 1 seizure in every 50,000 to 60,000 sessions (Rossi et al., 2009; Lerner et al., 2019). However, because we always put your safety first, your doctor will always do a comprehensive pre-assessment, and you will be constantly monitored during your TMS treatments.

Facial Twitches

In rare cases, the use of TMS magnetic pulses may cause temporary twitching of the facial muscles. This might be uncomfortable, but it usually stops quickly once the magnetic field is removed.

How effective is TMS in the Treatment of Anxiety?

The therapeutic efficacy of TMS as a treatment for anxiety disorders is still under investigation, although there are some notable positive signs. Here’s a summary of the current research landscape.

Positive Findings

  • TMS, particularly dTMS, can be effective in reducing symptoms of GAD and PTSD.
  • Those with (traditional) treatment-resistant anxiety may experience significant improvement with TMS.
  • TMS has shown sustained reductions in anxiety symptoms even after completing treatment.

Mixed Findings

  • Some studies have reported only mild improvements or no significant changes in anxiety symptoms.
  • The long-term efficacy of TMS for anxiety is still unclear.
  • More research is needed to determine the optimal TMS protocols, target brain regions, and treatment durations for different anxiety disorders.

While there is some mixed feedback, the existing evidence suggests that TMS may be a promising treatment option for anxiety. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional to discuss the potential risks and benefits of TMS for your specific anxiety condition and to determine if it’s a suitable treatment option for you.

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TMS for Anxiety FAQs

  • As of now, Medicare in Australia does not cover TMS for anxiety. However, coverage may vary between health insurance providers, so it’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider before committing to TMS treatment for anxiety.

    It’s worth noting that while many insurers won’t cover TMS for anxiety, most will offer a rebate for treating major depressive disorder with TMS. At Neuralia TMS, the cost of TMS treatment is fully covered and patients pay NO out-of-pocket fees. This includes fees for psychiatrist reviews and standard TMS sessions.

  • The cost of TMS treatment for anxiety in Australia can vary depending on the provider and location, but it typically ranges from $150 to $300 per session. Some clinics may offer package deals or payment plans to make the treatment more affordable.

    Some insurers may offer rebates for TMS for mental health conditions, like OCD, depression, and anxiety. In these cases, you may end up paying less than $100 per session.

Contact

Contact Neuralia TMS today and take a step toward a quieter, more fulfilling future.

Phone: 08 6230 3996 / 08 6230 2231

Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Healthlink ID: neuralia

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Dr Shanek Wick – Author Bio

Dr. Shanek Wick, a distinguished Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, specialises in holistic mental health care with a focus on interventional psychiatry, neurostimulation, and addiction.

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Neuralia TMS are the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) specialists in Perth, WA. TMS is non-invasive treatment for depression and several other conditions.

Phone: 6230 3996
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 6230 2231
Healthlink ID: neuralia

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