TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, is gaining popularity as a way to treat mental health problems such as depression and OCD. It is currently being studied for its use to help treat diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, and addiction. It has been used in clinical trials and is increasingly being offered by healthcare providers. TMS uses therapeutic coils placed near areas of the brain that are involved in emotion regulation, and the stimulation changes neural activity in these areas. Its effects are mainly due to synaptic and neuronal connectivity changes, resulting in improved symptoms. While TMS has many positive benefits, you may be concerned about the potential side effects, including whether TMS can cause memory loss.
What are the causes of memory loss?
Normal decline with age
It occurs in all adults as they reach middle age and older and can cause a gradual decline in memory and accuracy, although information may remain in the brain. This decline is primarily related to the episodic recall, the ability to recall events, descriptions of events, conversations, and other past personal interactions. This type of memory loss is often called “age-related memory loss.”
Traumatic brain injury
This type of injury results from a sudden light or decisive blow or shock to the head. In any case, TBI can cause a person to experience long-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Memory deficits caused by TBI range from short-term, acute damage to the parts of the brain involved in storing memories to long-term injury that prevents new memories from forming.
Neurological disease or condition
These diseases and conditions can be caused by many types, including degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. As these diseases progress, patients may lose memory due to severe cognitive impairment. Dementia, a condition in which many areas of cognitive ability and performance are affected, is a result of Alzheimer’s disease, often causing severe memory loss and confusion. Other causes of memory loss due to diseases and neurological conditions include stroke, brain tumors, and infections such as encephalitis and HIV.
Is Depression Linked to Memory Loss?
Depression is a complex disease with many possible causes and symptoms, so it can be challenging to link depression to memory loss. However, research shows that people with depression may experience cognitive impairment, including difficulty concentrating, processing information quickly, and forming or recalling memories. In addition, it has been found that people with major depression may have a smaller hippocampal volume than those without the diagnosis, which may cause more problems with memory consolidation and retrieval. These studies suggest a possible relationship between depression and memory loss but do not represent an absolute correlation. Further studies are needed to clarify the precise relationship between these two phenomena.
Can TMS cause memory loss?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a non-invasive treatment for depression, anxiety, and various neurological disorders. Although its exact mechanism of action is unknown, it is believed to involve injecting electrical currents through electromagnetic pulses to alter patterns of neural activity in the brain. Despite its widespread use over the past few decades, there is no clear scientific evidence that TMS causes memory loss. Most studies have not shown significant changes in short- or long-term memory performance in patients treated with TMS; however, more high-quality studies examining the effects of intermittent TMS on long-term memory may be needed to confirm these findings.
What treatments can cause memory loss?
Alcoholism is directly related to memory loss
This can happen in two ways: short-term memory loss when a person is still drinking heavily and long-term memory loss due to brain damage caused by long-term drinking. When a person drinks heavily, their short-term memory can be adversely affected. This means they are less likely to remember events or forget meaningful conversations while drinking.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
ECT is a psychiatric treatment for people with major depressive disorder, mania, and schizophrenia, among other psychological disorders. It involves passing an electric current through the brain to cause a shock. The result is a disruption of brain functions responsible for helping patients perceive and understand the world around them, including memory systems. Some patients have been found to have difficulty forming new memories of unfamiliar objects, as well as recalling past experiences that require essential details. Although ECT is beneficial for some patients in alleviating the symptoms of their psychotic disturbances, the potential for treatment-related memory loss is apparent and should not be underestimated.
Can TMS Improve Memory and Treat Memory Problems?
What the research shows
Recent research provides evidence of the potential effectiveness of TMS in improving memory. Several studies have shown that using TMS immediately before a memory task can improve memory performance, helping people form and maintain new memories or recall details of past events. These studies have produced encouraging results, suggesting that TMS may be a viable option for treating memory problems and improving memory performance.
Treating problems that cause memory loss
TMS is also used to treat conditions that can cause memory problems, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies show that TMS can reduce symptoms of depression, which can lead to memory problems. Additionally, TMS effectively reduces PTSD symptoms, including memory problems such as flashbacks and cognitive memory deficits.
Despite these limitations, there is evidence that TMS can effectively treat memory problems and improve memory. As research continues and understanding of how TMS affects the brain improves, this technique may be helpful for those with memory problems.
Steps to Getting Started Using TMS for Memory Loss
Ask the Experts
TMS therapy requires skill and experience and should only be performed by experienced practitioners. Doctors will assess the patient for memory loss, lifestyle, and other factors affecting treatment success.
Receive required training
Patients should receive adequate training to understand TMS therapy’s procedures and risks. Patients should ask their doctor questions about how long the treatment will last.
Learn about the different options
TMS treatment can be delivered in several ways, and patients should discuss with their doctor which method is best for them. Other methods differ in treatment time, how often patients need to come for treatment, and how well it works.
Make sure the patient is comfortable
When receiving TMS for memory loss, patients should feel comfortable and relaxed. This can be achieved with different treatments or medications prescribed by your doctor.
Schedule therapy sessions
Patients should plan their treatment and arrive at the clinic on time. Patients should also make an appointment with their doctor to monitor treatment progress.
Anticipate side effects after treatment
After a course of treatment, patients should notice an improvement in their memory. Results will last varying lengths of time depending on the treatment used.