By Dr. David Woo - August 21, 2023
Although it is normal to experience anxiety occasionally, frequent or constant feelings of anxiety can be a sign that someone has an anxiety disorder and should seek medical treatment. Talk therapy and anti-anxiety medications are typically used to treat anxiety, but if they are ineffective, then transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for anxiety may be a good option.
What is TMS For Anxiety?
TMS is a noninvasive therapy for anxiety and other mental health conditions. During TMS treatment, the patient wears a head-mounted device called a coil. The doctor then activates and monitors the coil to deliver tiny magnetic pulses that stimulate activity in the brain regions associated with regulating our moods, such as the prefrontal cortex. This helps balance the electrochemical activity in the patient’s brain and alleviates the unstable or overwhelming emotions that are symptoms of a mood disorder like anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mood disorders, affecting an estimated 19.1% of people in the US (1). People with general anxiety disorder experience persistent, recurring symptoms over a long period (months or years). Symptoms of general anxiety include:
- Overwhelming feelings of fear, worry, or stress
- Constant feelings of restlessness or being “on edge”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained bodily pains, including headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Difficulty sleeping
- Panic attacks
Does TMS Work For Anxiety?
TMS has been shown to be an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and has been approved by the FDA for both conditions. Still, there is less research on TMS therapy for anxiety compared to depression (2). However, what we know so far suggests that TMS may be an effective treatment for anxiety.
TMS For General Anxiety Disorder
Multiple studies have found that TMS targeting the right prefrontal cortex improved symptoms in patients with general anxiety disorder (but not social anxiety). This supports the theory that individuals with general anxiety disorder have overactive right brain hemispheres and that TMS can be used to calm this side of the brain and alleviate symptoms (3, 4).
TMS For Anxious Depression
Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental disorders. They often occur together (a phenomenon called comorbidity), and nearly half of people with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (5). Comorbid anxiety and depression is called anxious depression, and TMS has been proven effective in treating patients with this disorder. In particular, the Brainsway™ Deep TMS coil used by Madison Avenue TMS and Psychiatry is FDA-approved for marketing as a treatment for anxious depression (6).
Can TMS Worsen Anxiety?
No evidence suggests that using TMS for anxiety can worsen existing symptoms. It is considered a safe treatment and is administered under the recommendation and supervision of your doctor. However, some people experience mild, temporary side effects like headaches or scalp irritation.
TMS For Anxiety Near Me
If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, it’s vital to seek professional advice and treatment as early as possible. Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry offers talk therapy and TMS for anxiety, depression, and other conditions. Contact us online or call (212) 731-2033 to make an appointment for consultation or treatment.
- Any Anxiety Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Publication Date Unknown. Link. Accessed July 19, 2023.
- FDA permits marketing of transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Updated August 17, 2018. Link. Accessed July 17, 2023.
- Paes F, Baczynski T, Novaes F, Marinho T, Arias-Carrión O, Budde H, Sack AT, Huston JP, Almada LF, Carta M, Silva AC, Nardi AE, Machado S. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder: Case Reports and a Review of the Literature. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2013;9:180-8. Link. Accessed July 19, 2023.
- Balderston, N.L., Beydler, E.M., Roberts, C. et al. Mechanistic link between right prefrontal cortical activity and anxious arousal revealed using transcranial magnetic stimulation in healthy subjects. Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020;45, 694–702. Link. Accessed July 19, 2023.
- Understanding Anxiety: Facts & Statistics. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Publication Date Unknown. Updated September 19, 2021. Link. Accessed July 19, 2023.
- FDA clears brainsway Deep TMS system for decreasing anxiety symptoms in depressed patients. National Institute of Mental Health. Brainsway. August 18, 2021. Link. Accessed July 19, 2023.