Benefits of VA TMS vs Veterans using Ketamine for depression

Benefits of VA TMS vs Veterans using Ketamine for depression


Benefits of VA TMS vs Veterans using Ketamine for depression. According to the National Council of Behavioral Health, 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment. That equates to approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression. Unfortunately, veterans and depression often go hand and hand. 

Of those, less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment. The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day.


What Is TMS Therapy?

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical form of brain stimulation. A changing magnetic field causes an electric current at a specific brain area through electromagnetic induction. 

TMS is commonly used for the treatment of depression when a patient does not respond positively to antidepressants. It has also been used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, and other mental diseases.


What Is Ketamine?

According to Wikipedia, Ketamine is a medication used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. When taken, it causes a trance-like state while providing pain relief and sedation. It has also been used for sedation in patients in an intensive care unit and treating pain and depression.

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Benefits of VA TMS

Depression is one of the top illnesses seen among veterans. One in eight veterans receive a diagnosis of major depression disorder (MDD) that requires treatment. What are the benefits of TMS therapy for these vets?


Non-invasive, No Surgery or Sedation

One of VA TMS therapy’s significant advantages is that it is a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure. It also does not require sedation of any kind. Therefore, veterans can drive themselves to and from their treatment appointment and get back to their daily lives after.

Also, TMS therapy for depression is safe for those who have PTSD. During treatment, the equipment is quiet, which benefits veterans who might experience anxiety with loud noises. 

There are usually little to no side effects after. These side effects can include: headache, tingling, and lightheadedness immediately after treatment.



Depression Treatment 

Veterans suffer from a higher rate of depression than the rest of the population and don’t see results with standard treatments. Being unable to respond to depression treatment can severely impact the life of someone who has served in the military, as they may have experienced more psychological trauma than the average person. This means that veterans need alternative treatment options for depression and other mental disorders, like TMS.

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Years of Research and Studies

TMS Therapy was approved for treatment-resistant depression in 2008 and has been well tolerated by most patients, with few side effects reported.

For over two decades, TMS therapy has been studied extensively worldwide and continues to be for treatment outside of depression.


Other Mental Diagnosis Help

Often, a military veteran will also suffer with anxiety or PTSD in addition to MDD. While a veteran’s insurance covers TMS to treat depression, many soldiers noticed a reduction in their symptoms associated with anxiety or trauma. 


Covered by VA Benefits

Tricare is a government healthcare program offered to military members, and it pays for TMS for Veterans for the treatment of both MDD and PTSD. In addition to Tricare, all major health insurers now offer some TMS therapy coverage depending on criteria met.

Benefits of VA TMS vs Veterans using Ketamine for depression BrainStim


Using Ketamine for Treating Depression in Vets


If abused, Ketamine can change sight and sound, cause hallucinations and make people feel out of touch with their surroundings. It can make it hard to speak or move, and it’s often been abused as a date-rape drug.

One study showed the potential side effects of Ketamine use are:

  • Dissociative (out of body) effect that lingers
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Substance abuse

On March 5, 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a nasal spray formulation of the Ketamine to treat severe depression. In many controlled trials, this spray form has demonstrated rapid and often dramatic relief of veterans’ depressive symptoms. 

Watch Ketamine nasal spray could be used to treat depression on YouTube

Four days after the spray was approved, the VA announced that VA physicians would prescribe the nasal spray for their patients. However, these patients had to have other treatment-resistant depression and a clinical assessment. 

The nasal spray is self-administered by the patients in a certified medical facility under their health care practitioner’s observation. They must remain in the office/facility for 2 hours after administration to monitor their safety. The FDA recommends the drug be given twice a week for 4 weeks along with a conventional antidepressant.

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TMS Vs. Ketamine for Depression Treatment In Veterans

Benefits of VA TMS vs Veterans using Ketamine for depression

Treating depression and PTSD in veterans with TMS therapy vs Ketamine

The potential risks and benefits should be considered when considering alternative depression treatments to antidepressant drug therapy for veterans. With over a decade of practical clinical use of TMS therapy for successfully helping treatment-resistant patients, and few side effects, evidence points to TMS therapy as the most promising alternative depression treatment.

Since Ketamine is much newer to treating depression, the long-term outcomes and results aren’t known. There is insufficient data that points to Ketamine as a viable treatment option. When considering potential adverse effects and the high cost of treatment, Ketamine should only be used on a case by case basis.

BrainStimTMS uses state-of-the-art technology to help veterans suffering from depression. This includes all three FDA-cleared treatments: 3, 19, and 37-minute sessions. 75% of our patients see a significant decrease in symptoms and 45% reach remission. 


Click here to find a TMS clinic near you. Visited our website for our frequently asked questions and more information. Thank you for reading Benefits of VA TMS vs Veterans using Ketamine for depression.