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Effectiveness of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for treating depression-related anxiety

Effectiveness of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for treating depression-related anxiety

November 01 | By TATH Team

Even though depression and anxiety are two different mental health disorders, oftentimes, people struggling with major depressive disorder (MDD) develop anxiety symptoms including irritability, nervousness, and problems in concentrating and sleeping. However, it is important to note that both these disorders might have distinct causes and varied behavioral and emotional manifestations. Many people dealing with depression also have a history of an anxiety disorder during some stage of their life. Although, till date it has not been established that one disorder stems from another, however, there is a concrete evidence supporting the fact that both these disorders can co-occur in many people. 

According to a recent research published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, the anxiety symptoms accompanying MDD can be effectively treated using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) procedures. These include right-sided low frequency, left-sided high-frequency, and sequential bilateral protocols. 

Left-sided high-frequency rTMS resulted in extensive reduction in depression scores 

Data from 3 clinical trials was pooled by the investigators for evaluating if rTMS was helpful in managing anxiety symptoms in MDD and if it was, then which of the protocols yielded the most satisfactory outcomes. The study was a double blind randomized trial carried out for a period of 4 weeks. It incorporated 20 sessions of rTMS that assessed depression symptomatology, psychiatric diagnoses, and alterations in the symptoms of anxiety. 

The study population enrolled 697 patients out of which: 

  • Left-sided high-frequency rTMS was provided to 150 patients. 
  • Right-sided low-frequency rTMS was provided to 312 patients. 
  • Sequential bilateral rTMS was provided to the remaining 235 patients. 

Compared to the other two approaches, the left-sided high-frequency rTMS brought about an extensive reduction in the Hamilton Depressive Rating Scale growth score. However, all the 3 procedures were found to be efficacious in dropping the Beck’s Anxiety Inventory and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale growth score. Based on their findings, the researchers suggested that all the 3 approaches can be considered therapeutically equivalent in treating anxiety related to MDD. 

What can be expected from transcranial magnetic stimulation? 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a relatively short procedure which is noninvasive and doesn’t require hospitalization. It doesn’t involve any surgical procedure, therefore, an anesthesia or sedation, or a downtime is not required after the completion of the sessions. The patient remains alert and awake throughout the length of the procedure. Moreover, compared to antidepressants, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is non-systemic, that is, it doesn’t affect the other parts of the body. 

A typical transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol extends for 4 to 6 weeks including daily sessions which comprises 5 sessions per week. Subsequent to the preliminary course of the treatment, a few people might return for sessions to sustain their recovery. A typical session takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete, however, there are some technologically advanced devices available now with which the session might last for as long as only 3 minutes. 

Seeking treatment for anxiety 

Anxiety is an incapacitating mental health disorder, afflicting nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. Untreated anxiety can greatly reduce one’s quality of life and can exacerbate the already present other mental illnesses, such as depression. Fortunately, anxiety symptoms can be managed effectively with psychotherapy and medication but for that, one must be courageous enough to reach out for help. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with severe anxiety and is looking for help, contact the Anxiety Treatment Help to get information about the best anxiety treatment centersCall our 24/7 helpline 866-487-5015 for anxiety help chat. You can also chat online for anxiety with one of our experts to know about the best anxiety clinics and the programs offered. 

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