The Effectiveness Of TMS Therapy On Patients With BPD

The Effectiveness Of TMS Therapy On Patients With BPD

Despite only affecting 1.9% of the U.S. population, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) causes severe distress to those who have it through numerous physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Those who suffer from the disorder often report having unstable perceptions of both themselves and others, as well as a difficulty in maintaining stable relationships and regulating their moods.

Most markedly of all, perhaps, is their intense fear of abandonment, for which they make frantic efforts to avoid, often to the detriment of those around them. The seriousness of BPD is further highlighted through the mortality rate of the illness, with some sources suggesting that roughly 85% of those with BPD are at a high risk of suicide (Khosravi & Hassani, 2022), while others state that roughly 70% of those diagnosed with BPD will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime (New York Presbyterian, n.a.)

In recent years, there have been numerous advancements made in treatments for BPD, including multi-faceted approaches that combine methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with antidepressants and antipsychotic medications, and additional BPD therapy options. Complications can arise, however, for several reasons. Not all medications have the same effects on people, and some patients may feel discouraged over not seeing rapid results, or having to tailor their dosage or medication to find one that is the perfect “fit” for them.

Furthermore, patients with BPD may stop or refuse treatment, existing in a state of denial due to the social stigmas that surround the disorder or feelings of hopelessness stemming from a belief that they might “never get better” or be “permanently incurable.” As a result, individuals suffering from BPD may be less likely to seek the help they need, or stick with it in the long-run to ensure they enter full remission.

The need for a relatively quick and effective treatment approach to BPD has led some doctors and researchers to turn to TMS Therapy. TMS, also known as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, utilizes magnetic fields to stimulate areas of the brain that are “associated with BPD symptoms” (Woo, 2023), leading to a reduction in symptoms such as impulsivity and depression. This is consistent with other work done on studying the effects of TMS on treatment-resistant depression, which has yielded similarly positive results that can be applied to BPD due to some individuals with BPD also facing strong symptoms associated with certain types of depression.

There are numerous benefits to using TMS Therapy as a treatment for BPD. Besides being non-invasive and generally pain-free, TMS Therapy also allows patients to return to their day-to-day activities almost immediately, which cuts down on the recovery time that is normally seen in treatments such as Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Furthermore, TMS often yields faster positive effects on patients than ECT, though this effect is most clearly observed when a patient has both BPD and depression (SmartTMS, n.a.).

Ultimately, it is important to consult with primary care physicians and other specialists before starting any course of treatment. However, for individuals with BPD for whom other approaches have yielded little to no results, TMS can be an excellent therapy approach. Of course, as the body of research on the effectiveness of TMS in the treatment of BPD and other serious mental health disorders continues to grow, further insights may be revealed.

Ultimately, in utilizing TMS to treat BPD, individuals may see an improved quality of life and a better long-term outcome, which in turn may help reduce some of the stigmas and misconceptions surrounding the disorder.

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