Deep rTMS: A new hope for mental health

Written by: Dr Aarohee Desai-Gupta
Edited by: Kate Forristal

In the realm of psychiatric treatment, innovative therapies are continually evolving to provide relief for those grappling with mental health disorders. One such groundbreaking approach is deep repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), a non-invasive technique that holds promise in alleviating a spectrum of psychiatric conditions. In her latest online article, Dr Aarohee Desai-Gupta delves into the intricacies of how deep rTMS influences both the mind and body, its efficacy, potential side effects, patient suitability, and the experience of undergoing this transformative therapy.

How does Deep rTMS impact the mind and body to help treat psychiatric disorders?

Deep rTMS operates on the principle of targeted electromagnetic stimulation of specific regions in the brain implicated in psychiatric disorders. By delivering magnetic pulses to these areas, deep rTMS modulates neuronal activity, promoting neuroplasticity and restoring the brain's equilibrium. This modulation of neural circuits is believed to ameliorate symptoms associated with various psychiatric conditions by rebalancing abnormal brain activity patterns.


What types of conditions can be treated with Deep rTMS?

The versatility of deep rTMS extends across a spectrum of psychiatric disorders. It has shown efficacy in treating depression, including treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Additionally, deep rTMS has demonstrated promise in addressing anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even substance use disorders.


How successful is this form of treatment?

Research and clinical trials have consistently highlighted the effectiveness of deep rTMS in reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals with psychiatric disorders. Numerous studies have reported significant alleviation of symptoms, with some individuals experiencing sustained remission even after completing the treatment regimen. However, individual responses may vary, and the degree of success hinges on various factors, including the severity of the condition and treatment adherence.


Are there any long-lasting side effects associated with Deep rTMS?

One of the hallmark advantages of deep rTMS is its favourable safety profile. Unlike pharmacological interventions, deep rTMS typically entails minimal systemic side effects. The most commonly reported side effects include mild headache, scalp discomfort, or transient dizziness, which tend to diminish over the course of treatment. Long-term adverse effects are rare, making deep rTMS a well-tolerated therapeutic option for many individuals.


Which factors make a patient suitable for treatment with Deep rTMS?

Patient suitability for deep rTMS hinges on various factors, including the type and severity of the psychiatric disorder, previous treatment history, and individual health considerations. Generally, individuals who have not responded adequately to conventional treatments such as medication or therapy may be candidates for deep rTMS. However, a comprehensive assessment by a qualified healthcare provider is essential to determine suitability and tailor the treatment plan accordingly.


What happens during a typical treatment session? What does Deep rTMS feel like?

During a deep rTMS session, the patient sits comfortably while a specialised coil is positioned over the targeted brain region. The coil emits rapid magnetic pulses, which are typically painless and accompanied by a tapping or clicking sound. Most individuals describe the sensation as mild discomfort or a tingling sensation on the scalp, with no anaesthesia or sedation required. Treatment sessions typically last between 20 to 30 minutes and are administered daily over several weeks.


Dr Aarohee Desai-Gupta is an esteemed psychiatrist. You can schedule an appointment with Dr Desai-Gupta on her Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Aarohee Desai-Gupta

Dr Aarohee Desai-Gupta is a distinguished consultant psychiatrist based in London. She is an expert in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), ADHD, mood disorders, personality disorders, and anxiety.

Dr Desai-Gupta qualified in medicine at the University of Mumbai, India in 2002, before relocating to the UK to obtain her certification of completion of training in general adult psychiatry. She completed her training at a range of psychiatric settings across the UK, including at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and with training schemes in north London and central and north Manchester. During this period, she also undertook the Royal College of Psychiatry’s residency program, later earning membership of the College, and a Master's degree in psychiatry from the University of Manchester.

Dr Desai-Gupta serves as clinical director and consultant psychiatrist at Atrom Mindcare Deep rTMS, a leading clinic specialising in state-of-the-art treatment of depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), amongst others, through transcranial magnetic stimulation. In addition, she sees private patients at the Priory Hospital North London.

Beyond her clinical responsibilities, Dr Desai-Gupta is actively involved in education, serving as a highly-experienced trainer in psychiatry. She has formerly held positions as an educational supervisor and tutor for psychiatric trainees and medical students at London and Manchester universities. She is also a health assessor and medical supervisor with the General Medical Council.

Dr Desai-Gupta formerly served as a consultant psychiatrist an associate medical director at North East London NHS Foundation Trust, where she founded the ‘In-Sync’ multi-professional simulation training program in psychiatry. This project won the ‘Most Innovative Training of the Year Award’ in 2017 from University College London Partners in 2017. In addition, Dr Desai-Gupta established an acute in-patient unit, Blake ward, at the Priory Hospital in Enfield which opened in 2020. She is a member of the International Clinical Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (CTMS) Society and a registered media spokesperson with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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