The Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines for Depression

The Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines for Depression

There are a number of studied predictive factors that can indicate whether a patient will experience a positive TMS response rate. Many people ask whether or not the use of benzodiazepines is one of those factors that can impact one’s response to TMS.

Types of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines describe a category of psychotropic prescription medications that act as mild tranquilizers for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorders, seizures, muscle spasms, withdrawals from alcohol, insomnia, and more. Some of the most commonly prescribed are:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Many people who experience depression also experience the mental health conditions that benzodiazepines treat. If you have concurrent depression and anxiety disorders, or you also take benzodiazepines for other medical reasons, you may wonder how TMS and benzodiazepines might affect one another.

Concurrent Use of TMS and Other Psychotropic Medicines

Though there are decades of research and clinical experience that support the positive impacts of TMS therapy, more recent work has also focused on exploring the relationship between concurrent uses of TMS therapy and medications for various illnesses.

Studies have indicated that concurrent use of antidepressant medication, mood stabilizers or antipsychotics does not have a meaningful negative effect on the likelihood of antidepressant response to TMS.  In fact, the concurrent use of an antidepressant or mood stabilizer is associated with a higher response rate to TMS.

Concurrent Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines

Recent studies on the use of benzodiazepines alongside TMS therapy have produced interesting results. The authors of a recently published 2020 study conducted an analysis of pooled data from two recently published TMS clinical trials to explore whether benzodiazepine use was related to clinical response to TMS therapy.

  • The two base studies provided a total sample size of 185 patients who were all receiving one of the various forms of TMS therapy, including intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS), a newer form of TMS therapy.
  • 121 of these patients were not taking benzodiazepines during the trials, while 64 patients were taking a benzodiazepine.
  • No information on dosage amounts was given in regards to the 64 patients who were taking benzodiazepines

The analysis concluded that benzodiazepine usage had no impact on patients’ response to various forms of TMS treatment:

  • The authors analyzed the changes in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) reports of patients from the previous two studies. This data indicated that no significant changes in patients’ MADRS scales could be traced back to the concurrent use of TMS and benzodiazepines.
  • These authors suggest that future studies will ideally include larger sample sizes, as well as information on benzodiazepine doses, in order to create greater detail.

Learn More About Your Options for Depression Treatment at Mid City TMS

The TMS experts at Mid City TMS can offer you the best advice on which treatment pathway is right for you. If you have been considering alternative depression treatments to coincide with or replace your current treatment plan, Mid City TMS is here to offer you a non-invasive method for treating your depression. Contact us today to learn more about what TMS can do for your depression treatment plan.

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