TMS Therapy For Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are relatively common among adults in the United States. Symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person. Someone, for instance, may experience symptoms during specific situations or feel overwhelmed throughout most of their daily lives. Fortunately, the benefits of TMS therapy for anxiety can help you manage symptoms and reclaim control of your life.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of uncertainty or uneasiness that can motivate you into action. In addition, you might feel anxious when anticipating a challenging event or exciting life experience. Anxiety can have benefits, and feelings of anxiety can help you feel energized and ready for these events. For example, you can feel worried about an upcoming job interview or a date. Nearly every person will experience this type of anxiety throughout their life.
However, anxiety can be problematic. For instance, you could feel anxiety that you cannot overcome or cannot find ways to calm down enough to engage in everyday activities and life events. You might feel fear or dread when encountering events that trigger your anxiety—even experiences that could be rewarding, fun, and positive. You could feel apprehension that affects your ability to live a healthy and happy life.
Common symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Feeling on-edge or restless
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing
- Heart palpitations
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle tension
- Persistent feelings of worry
- Difficulty eating
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Racing thoughts
The Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
Different types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): You might feel excessive worry about nearly everything in your daily life. With GAD, your anxiety symptoms could be triggered by ordinary concerns like money, work, or family.
- Social anxiety disorder: This type of anxiety is triggered by social situations, like going to school, work, parties, shopping, and crowded places. Sometimes, social anxiety can be triggered by one-on-one situations, making it challenging to get help from a therapist.
- Panic disorder: Anxiety symptoms can sometimes trigger a panic attack. Panic attacks can cause your heart to race and breathing to become shallow, often being compared to heart attacks. You may have a panic attack out of nowhere, causing even more anxiety, as you fear the possibility of a panic attack occurring in public.
- Specific phobias: You might have an intense fear of something specific that poses no threat to you in your daily life. Common specific phobias include heights, flying, certain animals, blood, or injections during medical appointments.
While each anxiety disorder has different triggers, they all can impact your thought processes and behaviors. To control your symptoms and worrying thoughts, you could use maladaptive coping skills, such as avoidant behaviors or self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Getting treatment for anxiety can help you manage your symptoms and learn healthy coping skills to deal with your triggers.
Individual counseling using modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common treatments for anxiety. Group therapy can also help you practice healthy coping skills with others in a safe space. However, if your anxiety is severely crippling, you may struggle to attend therapeutic appointments or speak with peers in a group session. Therefore, you could benefit from TMS to help calm your anxiety enough to begin building healthy coping skills in therapy.
Many adults experience some form of anxiety during their lifetime. According to the CDC, in 2019, “Over 15% of adults experienced symptoms of anxiety that were either mild, moderate, or severe in the past 2 weeks.” When anxiety doesn’t seem to go away and continues to worsen over time, you may have an anxiety disorder.
The CDC also shares the following statistics on anxiety:
- Anxiety disorders are more prevalent in young adults aged 18 to 29 (19.5%) than in older age groups.
- The prevalence of anxiety symptoms tends to decrease with age.
- Women (19.0%) are more likely to experience anxiety than men (11.9%).
How Can TMS Help With Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders can cause your brain to become over-stimulated, triggering your “flight or fight” response. The flight or fight response activates when you encounter a threatening situation. This response helps you either run away from or combat a threat by releasing hormones that make you feel alert and energized. The flight or fight response helped keep early humans safe from environmental threats, like predators and deadly weather. However, in the modern world, you rarely encounter threats that this response helps you avoid. With an anxiety disorder, you feel the same response but to non-threatening triggers.
TMS can help when you frequently feel overstimulated due to an anxiety disorder. With a non-invasive procedure, TMS can benefit anxiety disorders by calming specific parts of the brain with a repetitive, magnetic pulse. While some side effects may occur during TMS, you won’t need any sedatives and will be safe to return to your daily routine after your sessions.
The benefits of TMS for anxiety disorders include:
- Helping you manage severe anxiety disorders that have prevented you from seeking treatment in the past.
- Enhancing your recovery from anxiety by addressing brain overstimulation, which could be triggering your symptoms.
- Can be performed in an outpatient setting, meaning you would come into your sessions as you would for a regular doctor’s visit.
- Is safer and less risky than other forms of brain stimulation therapies.
- Can be used as a long-term solution to your anxiety symptoms, with 6 weeks of intensive treatment followed by monthly “maintenance” appointments.
Most people feel the effects of TMS therapy after about 2 weeks of treatment. This time frame is relatively short compared to long-term anxiety medications, which might take 4 to 6 weeks for you to notice a difference. (Note: fast-acting medications for panic attacks, however, can bring relief quickly in a moment of heightened anxiety). Usually, 2 weeks is not a guarantee for results, as some factors can, in fact, impact the effects.
Factors influencing how long it will take to feel the effects of TMS include:
- Being treatment-resistant in the past can increase the time frame to notice results
- Your age (younger patients respond to TMS quicker)
- Using TMS to augment long-term medications expedites results
- High scores in persistence in the Temperance and Character Inventory test correlate with faster results
TMS is still a relatively new type of treatment for mental health disorders. Overall, when treating anxiety disorders, TMS does not make anxiety worse. As with any new treatment, continued research is needed to understand the scope of TMS side effects fully. TMS might make anxiety worse when an anxiety disorder is not your primary diagnosis.
Additionally, feelings of anxiety can co-occur with other mental health conditions, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. If your anxiety symptoms result from another primary mental health disorder, you may want to be cautious about TMS therapy. Remember to always consult with a trusted health care professional before beginning any type of therapy, especially newer techniques like TMS.
Anxiety disorders can disrupt your ability to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. If you struggle with severe anxiety, you could find it challenging to get anything out of traditional counseling and therapy. At Wave Treatment Centers, we use TMS and other forms of innovative therapies to treat anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions.
Other treatments available at Wave Treatment Centers include:
Call us or visit our contact form to reclaim control of your life today.