Neuromodulation, a new approach to dealing with mental illnesses

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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is one of the techniques of non-invasive neuromodulation used in the treatment of psychiatric diseases such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and substance addiction.

These techniques seek to modify the nervous system, through the application of electrical stimuli and magnetic pulses. With TMS, through a coil that is placed outside the skull, an electromagnetic induction is generated by the principle of Faraday. Its use in the diseased brain depolarizes the selected area of ​​gray matter, so that modulates neuronal circuits that function aberrantly and cause brain pathology: from the cortical level the modification can reach, for example, the anterior cingulate cortex, a region associated with depression.

The development of the technique as a treatment took off when in the mid-1980s, medical physicist Anthony Barker designed a device at the University of Sheffield with which an area of ​​the brain could be accessibly stimulated at specific time intervals. Since then, studies on its applications have not stopped growing, especially in the United States: in 2008, the US regulatory agency FDA endorsed the EMT in resistant depression (years later the European EMA did so) and from there, a cascade of new indications in psychiatric and neurological pathology has emerged.

Today, Friday, experts in these and other neuromodulation techniques meet at the Infanta Sofía University Hospital, in San Sebastián de los Reyes (Madrid). Here the Spanish Society of Clinical Psychiatry (SEPC) organizes the I Conference on Updates on Neuromodulationwhere the latest developments in techniques will be presented and addressed.

Although in the United States its use is increasingly consolidated, in Spain the introduction of EMT occurred through the private sector and has begun to gain strength in public healthcare more recently. However, they are treatments that still surround the ignorance and certain prejudiceseven among professionals.

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