Are you considering TMS treatment for your mental health?
Have you heard about using quantitative EEG before initiating TMS treatment?
TMS therapy has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of certain psychiatric disorders. When other therapies have failed for depression in certain patients, TMS therapy has succeeded. Doctors are now using qEEG in preparation for TMS therapy to improve results.
Quantitative EEG, or qEEG, is also known as brain mapping to scientists. It is a particular test that looks for electrical activity in the human brain. It works similarly to the way EKG works for measuring electrical activity in the heart.
When patients undergo a quantitative EEG test, there are two primary pieces of information that doctors get as a result. The first is the overall quantity of brain waves present in certain locations in the brain. This is where the quantitative role comes in. The other is the type of brain waves that are being transmitted throughout the brain.
The “q” in qEEG simply means that we have a quantitative measure to assess the number of brain waves compared to the normal number of brain waves in that location.
Doctors will look at the quantitative result like they do other lab values. They will compare them to a normal reference range to see if the value is within range.
The abbreviation EEG stands for electroencephalogram. This is just a fancy word meaning that the test uses sensors to detect electrical activity in the brain.
Scientists and doctors can reconstruct a type of map of the brain’s electrical activity with this information.
It may sound challenging, but going through the qEEG experience as a patient is quite simple. Even though the EEG is looking at the most complex organ in the body, all you will need to do is follow the technician’s instructions and relax.
As you are preparing for the qEEG test, the technician will help to prepare your skin for the sensors. They will clean areas of your forehead and earlobes to remove excess oil from the skin. After this, they can place sensors that have small holes in them onto the areas they had just cleaned. The technician will use a cooling gel and apply it to the holes.
The sensors are then connected to the primary EEG machine using cables and wires.
This works similarly to an EKG machine. If you have ever been to an emergency department, you may have had heart testing performed to make sure you are safe. The sensors simply rest on the surface of the skin and detect electrical movement inside the body.
After the system is connected, both you and the technician will be able to see the activity light up on the computer screen.
From there, you will just need to sit and relax. The technician will work to do two things at this point.
The first is that they will record electrical activity in the form of brain waves with your eyes open and closed. They may instruct you to open and close your eyes repeatedly as information transfers from the sensors to the central equipment. You will simply need to sit and relax and listen to the technician’s instructions and imagine yourself in a comfortable setting.
Usually, this process will take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, so patients like to imagine themselves sitting on the beach or at a baseball game to pass the time.
The second thing the technician will do is to create a brain map. While analyzing the results of the qEEG, the information will be combined to create a multicolored brain map that they will show you and review with you after the test concludes.
Once the test has been completed, there will be several pages of data that describe the function and electrical activity of different parts of your brain.
As discussed above, doctors can use this information and compare them to standardized patterns. These patterns come from extensive research into different mental health disorders.
For example, research has shown certain patterns of electrical activity present in anxiety or depressive disorders, seizures, concussions, or insomnia.
Brain mapping testing can also give information about patterns of behavior. If you are someone who has difficulty paying attention or has been diagnosed with ADHD, this is something that could be supported in a brain mapping test.
Other features of ADHD, including impulsive behavior, poor problem-solving, and poor emotional management may also show variations in brain waves.
When doctors read the report provided from the Q EEG testing center, they are looking for three types of analysis.
Magnitude analysis looks at the overall magnitude of the brain waves to assess how well each of the lobes is functioning.
The brain is divided into four lobes. These are the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. Doctors have done research to assess standardized amounts of activity in each of these lobes of the brain.
The brain waves represent electrical activity that is indicative of certain cognitive, mental, or emotional processes that take place during our day to day.
When looking at a brain map result, green colors indicate normal levels of activity, while red levels indicate elevated activity. Yellow areas indicate extremely high levels of activity.
There are also different types of shapes of each wave. Different types of wave patterns correspond to different types of activity.
For example, delta waves are used during sleep, relaxation, and periods where we are trying to restore and refresh the mind and body.
Theta waves focus on memory-making. When theta waves are present, the mind is often highly focused internally, such as in meditation or prayer.
Alpha waves are present during alert phases throughout the day. Beta waves are associated with logical thinking and intense concentration. Gamma waves are often present when the mind is at work problem-solving. When you sit down to play a puzzle or board game, gamma waves become more predominant.
When we look at brain maps for each of these types of waves, dysregulation in the wave amounts can lead to undesired behaviors.
For example, not having enough beta or gamma wave activity in the frontal lobe can cause a reduction in impulse control and ultimately affect our relationships with others.
Similarly, a higher amount of delta and theta waves present in the occipital lobe can cause problems remembering things, and even impact our ability to detect faces and objects we would otherwise be familiar with.
In the discriminant analysis, doctors focus on assessing our emotional, memory, cognitive, and executive functioning. This information can tell us more about our risk for certain medical and psychiatric conditions.
For example, doctors can look at this information and tell us more about our risk for developing dementia, amnesia, stroke, anxiety disorders, OCD, autism, or posttraumatic stress disorder.
This is extremely valuable information as it can be used to predict psychiatric problems as they arise.
Once the qEEG technician and the doctors have created a brain map, they can use this information to guide the TMS treatment.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a noninvasive procedure that stimulates nerve cells in the brain using magnetic fields.
TMS works for several psychiatric disorders, but it is most often associated with refractory depression. This means that it is used when other treatments for depression haven’t worked.
At first, TMS treatment may sound similar to qEEG testing. In some ways, the two procedures are similar in that they are using invisible electrical energy to communicate with brain cells.
The difference is that in TMS therapy, an electromagnetic coil is used to deliver a special magnetic pulse.
It is important to note that this does not hurt the patient. The patient works with a qualified anesthesia provider to make sure there is no pain or discomfort.
The procedure finishes in well under an hour and patients may feel different as soon as a few hours later. However, most patients will require a few weeks to see maximum benefit.
This pulse helps to activate certain nerve cells specifically in the area of the brain involved in depression and mood control. Moreover, it is thought to activate areas of the brain that have been found to have lower activity and depression.
This is where the brain mapping from the qEEG testing can be extremely helpful. When brain mapping is available for a patient, doctors can target their therapy further.
One of the challenges in TMS therapy is that the biology is not completely understood. The electromagnetic stimulation appears to activate these brain cells, however, what is occurring on a molecular level is not entirely clear.
There are many different ways to perform the TMS procedure. As time passes, techniques will continue to improve as experts learn more about the most effective ways to deliver stimulation to the brain.
While TMS therapy can be amazingly effective for patients with refractory depression, it isn’t for everyone.
TMS therapy is not used for patients who have not tried other treatments for depression, including SSRIs, atypical antidepressants, or psychotherapy.
The procedure is also not indicated for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
Additionally, if you have any metal or implanted devices in your body, you should speak with your doctor. Certain devices in the body are not compatible with the procedure due to the strong magnetic field.
Patients who have a history of seizures or other mental health disorders including their family history should talk with a doctor to determine if the procedure is right for them.
TMS works for many people. Many patients say that their depression symptoms improve or even go away completely. It may take several weeks of treatment before improvement in symptoms occurs.
Every year, the effectiveness of this therapy is improving. Scientists are learning how to combine quantitative EEG with TMS. They are learning more about specific sites on the brain that they can stimulate.
At this point, scientists do not know whether or not ongoing treatment with TMS will continue to help patients with depression.
What is known is that patients who improve their depression with TMS therapy, and then have a relapse of depression later, will benefit from more treatment. In most cases, insurance companies will pay for the second round of treatment.
Quantitative EEG, or qEEG, is a great partner for TMS treatment. These are some of the newest FDA-approved technologies designed to help patients with depression and other mental health disorders. Using the information from brain mapping, doctors can help patients feel better than they ever have.
If you’re looking for the premier TMS treatment center in Riverside County, look no further. At Inland Empire TMS, we put our patients first and want to help every person who walks in our doors treat their depression with the utmost expertise. Please contact us today to hear more about our services.