Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are both non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that can be used as a treatment for depression. Each of these therapies has its own benefits, but it can be difficult to know which one is the best option for you. Both VNS and TMS are very effective in treating depression when combined with other treatments like medication and psychological therapy. They also have few side effects, unlike some other types of depression treatments.
However, they are not suitable for everyone as some people cannot tolerate them due to their medical conditions or general health. Here is a detailed comparison of these two depression treatment techniques so you can understand which one might be better suited to your situation.
What is Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)?
The vagus nerve is a nerve that connects the brain to various organs in the body, including the heart and the digestive tract. It has many functions, including regulating heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) involves a device placed under the skin near the collarbone that sends electrical impulses to the brain via the vagus nerve. VNS is considered a type of neurostimulation, a treatment for depression that is thought to work by changing brain chemistry and/or function. It has been approved as a treatment for certain types of depression since 1997 and is currently the only type of device-based treatment approved for this purpose.
What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive type of brain stimulation that uses magnetic fields to stimulate areas of the brain linked to mood regulation. This can be done by placing a short electromagnetic coil against the scalp to deliver pulses of energy to the brain. You will be lying down in a comfortable position during treatment. TMS treatments have been approved for people with some types of depression, especially treatment-resistant depression since 2008. It is also sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other conditions.
Choosing Between TMS and VNS
Both VNS and TMS have been found to be effective in treating depression, but there are some differences between the two approaches. These are some of the main factors you may want to consider when deciding which treatment is best for you:
- Availability – Both VNS and TMS are available as treatments for depression, but the availability of each may vary from place to place. This could depend on the expertise of the clinicians offering the treatments and the availability of the devices used.
- Ease of Use – Both VNS and TMS are simple to administer and have few side effects, but the devices used for VNS may be slightly more complicated than those for TMS. This could make VNS slightly less user-friendly for some people. – Outcome
- Effectiveness – Both VNS and TMS have been found to be effective in treating depression, with similar response rates (around 50% of people respond to treatment). However, there may be some differences in the effectiveness of the two treatments. The best way to determine which therapy would be better for your unique situation is to talk to your psychiatrist and get evaluated.
Benefits of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Depression
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is both easier, safer, and more effective than vagus nerve stimulation for most people. Some reasons why clients choose TMS to deal with their mental health conditions include:
- The procedure is easier – TMS is a non-invasive technique that does not require any surgery. It is easily administered by a clinician and can be self-administered at home by some people with minimal supervision. VNS, on the other hand, requires a device to be implanted under the skin near the collarbone.
- May have fewer side effects – Although both treatments have few side effects, TMS may have fewer negative side effects than VNS. This could be because VNS uses electrical impulses to stimulate the brain, which could lead to some side effects like tingling, spasms or other sensations in the head.
- Helps with treatment-resistant depression – TMS is particularly suited to cases of depression that don’t respond to traditional treatments. This means that it may be more effective than VNS for severe and treatment-resistant depression.
TMS Therapy at Lucid Wellness Center
TMS therapy is offered at several clinics in the US, including the Lucid Wellness Center in Southern California, where we treat a wide variety of mental health conditions. Lucid uses a type of neurostimulation called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which is a newer and less invasive type of brain stimulation. All of our clinicians are trained to help you decide which type of treatment is best for you. You can also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment option before deciding which one might be appropriate for your condition.
If you feel TMS may be right for you, you can book a consultation at our clinic. If you’re suffering from depression and other approaches have not worked, TMS is probably suited to your needs.