What is TMS and Can it Treat Elderly Depression?

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TMS and Senior Depression

TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, may have some benefits for seniors who are struggling with clinical depression. However, research studies about the effectiveness of TMS are mixed. Read on to learn more about what this therapy entails and whether it’s safe for your senior loved one. 

What is TMS?

With TMS, a magnetic current is used to stimulate specific areas of the brain. While the philosophy behind this treatment, which was developed in the mid-1980s, is similar to that of electroshock therapy, no electricity is involved. During the procedure, which takes about 30 minutes to an hour, the doctor holds an electromagnetic coil to the head near the area of the brain that is responsible for mood regulation. Through this coil, short, electromagnetic pulses are delivered.

Is it Safe for Seniors?

While opinions about effectiveness of the procedure are mixed, TMS is noninvasive and relatively safe. Denver senior care experts note, however, minor side effects may include mild headache, lightheadedness, or tingling or discomfort at the site where the coil was placed.

A study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment tested the effects of TMS on adults older than age 60. While the results of the study were not enough to prove the treatment’s effectiveness for clinical depression, it was found to be safe and well tolerated by the senior subjects. A 2010 study by Rush University Medical Center and published in Brain Stimulation found that TMS was effective in treating those with major depression that has not been responsive to other forms of treatment.

If your loved one has depression, he or she may be reticent to add more prescriptions to the several they already take, or may be concerned about the side effects of medication. If that’s the case, TMS may be a viable option. Keep in mind, however, that this type of treatment tends to be expensive (although some insurance companies cover it), and it may be difficult to find a practitioner.

If you’ve spoken with your loved one’s physician and suspect his or her depression could be caused by limited mobility, loneliness, or a lack of purpose, consider live-in or hourly care in Denver. At Home Care Assistance, every caregiver is trained to manage tasks of daily living like cooking and cleaning, transportation, physical assistance, and personal grooming. Our caregivers also offer a wealth of emotional support and can encourage purposeful habits and activities. To learn more, call 720-443-3371 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.


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