TMS Therapy for Bipolar Disorder: How It Works

Mood disorders make up some of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 9.7% of Americans have a mood disorder. Mood disorders are statistically higher in females than in males (11.6% vs. 7.7%). When speaking about bipolar disorder, it is important to note that it is one of the most prevalent mood disorders in the country, with 2.3 million people experiencing it. Thankfully, like most mood disorders, bipolar disorder can be treated. TMS therapy for bipolar disorder can be recommended in certain cases, as this kind of treatment can dramatically improve and stabilize mood. 

Bipolar Disorder Explained

Even though bipolar disorder is extremely common in the United States, it still remains a mental health condition that is widely misunderstood and negatively stigmatized. Bipolar disorder is not a condition where a person goes from one mood to the next within a matter of seconds and is always unpredictable. This is the common stereotype that those with bipolar disorder face. Instead, there are four different types of bipolar disorder, all of which present with their own symptoms:

  1. Bipolar I – Bipolar I, which is the most common of all bipolar disorders, is characterized by depressive and manic episodes. These episodes are often severe and last for weeks or months at a time.
  2. Bipolar II – Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I in that those who have it experience depressive and manic episodes. However, what makes bipolar II different from bipolar I is the intensity of symptoms. Individuals with this type of bipolar disorder will have manic and depressive episodes but they will not be as severe or last as long as episodes experienced in bipolar I.
  3. Cyclothymic Disorder – A step down from bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder also involves depressive and manic episodes. But, these episodes are much more mild than those experienced in bipolar I and II and don’t usually go into full-blown episodes. Additionally, they do not continue for as long as other forms of bipolar disorder.
  4. Mixed Features – Mixed features is not its own type of bipolar disorder, rather it is a feature that can occur in anyone with bipolar I, II, or cyclothymic disorders. Someone with mixed features may experience bouts of mania while in a depressive episode or vice versa. 

With all types of bipolar disorder exists depression. While this is what can make this specific type of disorder highly distressing, it is a symptom that can be treated, along with the rest of the disorder. One of the most effective treatments for bipolar disorder is TMS therapy.

What is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a non-invasive, painless medical treatment that can be provided to those with mood disorders that involve depression or depressive episodes. It began being studied in the 1980’s and, in 2008, became a treatment option in the United States. Despite some of the stigma that TMS therapy often gets, this treatment is safe and has helped improve the lives of many.

TMS therapy works by stimulating specific areas of the brain that are understimulated due to the presence of depression. It involves placing a coil on the scalp of the patient that delivers stimulation to these areas. Patients can feel a pulsing vibration during this time, but this vibration is not painful. There are a few different types of TMS therapy, including:

  • Traditional TMS – Traditional TMS involves having the coil send a continuous stimulation to the brain without interruptions
  • rTMS – Repetitive TMS, or rTMS, sends fast and consecutive stimulations to the brain
  • Theta burst – Stimulations come in patterns and bursts during theta burst treatment. This type of TMS is designed to help reduce the time spent in a TMS session by targeting specific areas of the brain

Approximately 60% of people who have struggled to get their symptoms of depression under control found success with TMS therapy.

TMS Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

So, how does TMS therapy for bipolar disorder work, exactly? Well, having bipolar disorder means that areas of an individual’s brain do not function as they should, which is why their symptoms exist. But, when TMS therapy for bipolar disorder is used as a treatment option, those with bipolar disorder can start seeing significant improvements.

The magnetism delivered through the coil helps specific regions of the brain to begin functioning better. This treatment is designed to correct problematic areas in the brain so that symptoms associated with conditions like bipolar disorder can be alleviated. When it comes to bipolar disorder specifically, studies have shown that repetitive TMS (rTMS) is the most effective form of TMS therapy for bipolar disorder.

TMS Therapy in Philadelphia 

Living with untreated bipolar disorder can be catastrophic to one’s life. At Wave Treatment Centers, we understand the challenge in reaching out for help for this particular mental health condition. But, we urge you to contact us right now to learn more about how we can help treat your bipolar disorder. 

Do not wait any longer. Call us right now to get started on your path of recovery from bipolar disorder.

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