The Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines for Depression

The Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines for Depression

Despite over a decade of clinical use of TMS and several decades of research of TMS, there remain some clinical questions that still need to be answered to optimize clinical practice. One of these questions concerns the concurrent use of psychotropic medications and whether these may reduce or enhance the likelihood of beneficial response to TMS.  Using the expertise that Mid City TMS offers our patients and the public, we will review the most recent clinical findings of the relationship between TMS and benzodiazepines.

Types of Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines describe a category of psychotropic prescription medications that act as mild tranquilizers for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder, seizures, muscle spasms, withdrawals from alcohol, insomnia, and more. If you’re unfamiliar with which prescription medications fall under the category of benzodiazepines, these are some of the most commonly prescribed medications of this group:

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

Many people who experience depression also experience the mental health issues that benzodiazepines are meant to treat. If you currently 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

In previous studies, the concurrent use of TMS therapy and psychotropic medications, such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, has indicated either no meaningful impacts of these medicines on patients’ success in TMS therapy, or has indicated a positive relationship (especially with antidepressants) between these medicines and the response rate to TMS.

Concurrent Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines

A recently published 2020 study analyzed the results of two recently completed clinical studies on the relationship between TMS and benzodiazepine usage:

  • These 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 during the trials.

The authors of this 2020 study found that benzodiazepine usage had no impact on patients’ response to various forms of TMS treatment, despite both previous studies indicating some negative relationship between TMS and benzodiazepine usage:

  • The researchers 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 researchers also concluded that future studies ought to include larger sample sizes, as well as information on benzodiazepine doses, in order to create more accurate and full results.

Is Concurrent Use of TMS and Benzodiazepines Harmful?

There is more research to be done on the relationship between TMS and benzodiazepines in the treatment of depression. However, the most recent research indicates that concurrent use of these two treatments is not harmful to your body or your ability to effectively treat your depression.

There are also other studied predictive factors that can indicate whether a patient will experience a positive TMS response rate. These factors should also be considered when discussing the possibility of TMS therapy with your medical professionals.

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

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is gaining more widespread interest and usage. If you have been considering alternative depression treatments to coincide with your current treatment plan, Mid City TMS is here to offer you a non-invasive pathway to treating your depression. Contact us today to learn more about what TMS can do for your depression treatment plan.

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