Final Update on TMS as a treatment for PTSD

After having completed my literature review, I feel that I have learned a great deal about TMS and about the brain itself. I have come to better understand the pathology of PTSD, as well as the way in which TMS may have the potential to alleviate symptoms of this disorder.

What I was most struck by this summer, however, was the amount of information that we are still hoping to learn about the brain. As well-known as PTSD is, experts are still not in agreement about what actually causes the disorder and its wide range of symptoms. While at points this was somewhat discouraging, seeing as I began my research with the intent of understanding not only how PTSD works but also how we can hope to treat it, I also think that this leaves a lot of room for very interesting and important research in the future. Much of the brain still exists as uncharted territory, and thus, we have much work to do in the field of neuroscience and beyond.

It is also very striking how little is actually known about TMS and the mechanism through which it affects the brain. While it is understood that electromagnetic pulses can induce firing of neurons, experts are still unsure as to why or how this alleviates symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Again, this is something that must be investigated in the future. Regarding the use of rTMS as a treatment (which is the most commonly studied form of TMS), experts are still unsure about optimal treatment frequency, location of pulse transmission, treatment duration, and number of pulses per treatment. Thus, it seems that there is great potential for this treatment to be improved and optimized, so that a wide range of people can benefit. Regarding the use of sTMS, it seems that, while much research still needs to be performed to investigate this treatment, the use of EEG scans to personalize treatment is promising. I am very interested to see if, in the future, researchers are able to uncover more about the effectiveness of this treatment, and why it might be even more beneficial than rTMS.

Though there is still a great lack of understanding surrounding TMS and its use as a treatment for PTSD, it seems that this treatment is something worth studying and perfecting. In my reading, I learned that about one third of individuals suffering from PTSD do not see any improvement in symptoms after having been treated with medication or psychotherapy, which further emphasizes the need for solid alternative treatment options. TMS, in my opinion, may just be one of those promising alternatives, and I hope that in coming years, more progress can be made in understanding the potential uses of this new and exciting technique.

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